Rock Of Ages: When Your Kidneys Are Full Of Stones And What You Can Do About It

Posted on: 9 May 2017

Kidney stones are a sign of old age. Because these stones take a long time to develop in your kidneys, they are literally the "rock of ages." Unfortunately, at the same time that you learn that you have tons of kidney stones, you are trying to deal with lots of other unpleasant and age-related problems. When those other problems also include your kidneys as the source, you may be wondering if there is anything you can do medically to make it all better. There is.

Kidney Stone Treatments

Kidney stones may pass on their own. They may also collect in the kidneys and build their own little kidney stone wall that blocks the passage of urine. You will then feel quite bloated and swollen, not to mention the fact that your kidneys can develop other problems because they cannot effectively filter toxins and sugars from your blood. It then becomes imperative for a nephrologist (kidney doctor) to assist you with the removal of the kidney stones.

The most common method of kidney stone treatment is to break them up. They have become a sort of sediment at the bottoms of your kidneys. If your nephrologist uses an ultrasound, you may even see the stones as well as lots of smaller stones still floating around in your kidneys. (The smaller ones are buoyed up by your collected urine.)

To break them up, the doctor has you get into a warm tub of water, and then a shockwave is sent through the water and through your body. This is known as extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy, or ESWL for short. You know what electric shock waves are, but litho means rock, and -tripsy means crushed. So, this therapy is literally a rock-crushing shock wave treatment.


As a last resort, your doctor may opt to remove the stones via surgery. This only happens if the ESWL does not work and the stones refuse to break up and pass on their own. In very rare cases where stones are larger than several millimeters across, they will need to be removed surgically as well.

If your situation is both chronic and reoccurring, your nephrologist may decide to remove the worst kidney. From this point on, you may develop diabetes, since you need both kidneys to help filter your blood, and just one cannot filter enough sugars on its own. In that case, you may also have to be on kidney dialysis for the rest of your life, or until a donor kidney can be transplanted (whichever comes first).