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What will my health care provider do to find out why I am developing stones?

Part of preventing stones is finding out why you get them. Your health care provider will perform tests to find out what is causing this. After finding out why you get stones, your health care provider will give you tips to help stop them from coming back. Some of the tests he or she may do are listed below.

Medical and Dietary History

Your health care provider will ask questions about your personal and family medical history. He or she may ask if:

  • Have you had more than one stone before?
  • Has anyone in your family had stones?
  • Do you have a medical condition that may increase your chance of having stones, like frequent diarrhea, gout or diabetes?

Knowing your eating habits is also helpful. You may be eating foods that are known to raise the risk of stones. You may also be eating too few foods that protect against stones or not drinking enough fluids.

Understanding your medical, family and dietary history helps your health care provider find out how likely you are to form more stones.

Blood and Urine Tests

After taking a complete history and doing a physical exam, your health care provider may take blood and urine samples for testing. Blood tests can help find if a medical problem is causing your stones. Your urine can be tested to see if you have a urinary tract infection or crystals that are typical of different stone types. If you are at high risk for getting stones in the future, a 24-hour urine collection can be done. This test will reveal the levels of different stone-forming substances in your urine. The results of this test can help your health care provider recommend make specific diet and medications to prevent future stones.

Imaging Tests

When a health care provider sees you for the first time and you have had stones before, he or she may want to see recent X-rays or order a new X-ray. They will do this to see if there are any stones in your urinary tract. Imaging tests may be repeated over time to check for stone growth. You may also need this test if you are having pain, hematuria (blood in your urine) or recurrent infections.

Stone Analysis

If you pass a stone or a stone is removed by surgery, your health care provider will want to test it. Testing the stone will determine what type of stone it is. This information helps your health care provider decide the best way to prevent future stones.