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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a staghorn stone? 

Like the horns of a stag (deer), these stones get their name from the shape they take as they grow to fill the inside of the kidney. Staghorn stones often form because of repeated urinary tract infections (UTIs) with certain kinds of bacteria. Even though they can grow to a large size, you may have no idea you have them because they cause little or no pain. A staghorn stone can lead to poor kidney function, even without blocking the passage of urine. Most often, staghorn shaped stones are the struvite/infection type of stone.

Will my children get kidney stones because I have them?

Kidney stones are more common in people who have a family member with kidney stones. Some conditions that cause stones may be inherited. But sometimes kidney stones form in relatives because of similar diet and lifestyle.

Can kidney stones damage my kidneys?

Yes, but rarely. Kidney stones can cause damage if they cause repeated or serious infection or cause kidney blockage for a long time. Some stones, if left untreated, can cause the kidney to stop working.

Why is it important that I follow up with my health care provider about my kidney stones?

During treatment, your health care provider may ask you to do another 24-hour urine collection and have your blood work checked to see if your urine test results have improved. Your health care provider will also check to see if you are having any side effects from your medications.

If you form stones often, you will need monitoring with X-rays and urine studies to be sure no new stones are forming. Your health care provider will monitor you to make sure your medications and diet changes are working.

How do I manage my kidney stone along with my other health problems, such as diabetes and/or a heart disorder?

Diet changes recommended for heart conditions also often help prevent stones. A healthy diet with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and less animal protein and salt can help avoid stones and other conditions. You can learn more from your health care provider or dietician. Keeping a normal weight can also help avoid diabetes and stones.

My stone has not passed. Do I need surgery?

If a stone in the ureter does not pass in a reasonable time or is causing pain or infection, you will need surgery to remove it.

What happens if I keep developing stones?

You may get another stone even if you've had surgery, changed your diet or are taking medications. However, with the right dietary and medical treatment, you can be less likely to get stones over and over again.