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A kidney stone is a solid piece of material that forms in the kidney from substances in the urine. It may be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a pearl. Most kidney stones pass out of the body without help from a doctor. But sometimes a stone will not go away. It may get stuck in the urinary tract, block the flow of urine and cause great pain.
The following may be signs of kidney stones that need a doctor's help:
- Extreme pain in your back or side that will not go away
- Blood in your urine
- Fever and chills
- Urine that smells bad or looks cloudy
- A burning feeling when you urinate
Your doctor will diagnose a kidney stone with urine, blood, and imaging tests.
If you have a stone that won't pass on its own, you may need treatment. It can be done with shock waves; with a scope inserted through the tube that carries urine out of the body, called the urethra; or with surgery.
NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
- Definition and Facts for Kidney Stones in Adults (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases)
- Kidney Stones (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases) Also in Spanish
- Pebbles in Your Plumbing: Flushing Kidney Stones (National Institutes of Health) Also in Spanish
- Do You Have Symptoms of a Kidney Stone? (National Kidney Foundation)
Diagnosis and Tests
- Abdominal Pain (Stomach Pain), Short-Term (American Academy of Family Physicians) Also in Spanish
- Crystals in Urine (National Library of Medicine) Also in Spanish
- Kidney Stone Analysis (National Library of Medicine) Also in Spanish
- Kidney Tests: MedlinePlus Health Topic (National Library of Medicine) Also in Spanish
- Phosphate in Urine (National Library of Medicine) Also in Spanish
- Uric Acid Test (American Association for Clinical Chemistry)
- Urography (American College of Radiology, Radiological Society of North America) Also in Spanish
- Hyperoxaluria (Oxalosis and Hyperoxaluria Foundation)
Statistics and Research
- Kidney Disease Statistics for the United States (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases)
- ClinicalTrials.gov: Nephrolithiasis (National Institutes of Health)
Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- Article: Risk factors for acute kidney injury after percutaneous nephrolithotomy: Implications...
- Article: Is retrograde intrarenal surgery replacing percutaneous nephrolithotomy as surgical treatment...
- Article: Lack of evidence that nephrolithiasis increases the risk of sialolithiasis:...
- Kidney Stones -- see more articles
Find an Expert
- Find a Urologist (Urology Care Foundation)
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
- National Kidney Foundation
- Blood in the Urine (Hematuria) (For Parents) (Nemours Foundation) Also in Spanish
- Kidney Stones in Children (National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse)
- Kidney Stones in Children (Beyond the Basics) (UpToDate)
- Kidney Stones in Children and Teens (American Academy of Pediatrics) Also in Spanish
- Ultrasound: Renal (Kidneys, Ureters, Bladder) (For Parents) (Nemours Foundation)