Kidney Stones In Children

Kidney stones are becoming more common in children than ever before, in some cases, stones are developing in children as young as five or six years old. Kidney stones form when urine contains too much of certain substances. This substance imbalance can create small crystals that grow and become stones. Pain is experienced when the stones become large and moves, try to pass in the urine, or block urine from escaping the kidney and reaching the bladder.

There may be several contributing factors to this increase in kidney stone prevalence in children such as food additives, salt intake, and not drinking enough water. Between 50 to 60 percent of children with stones have a family history of the disease. Treating kidney stones in children is challenging because they can result from various underlying problems. Genetic risk is common, but many factors can contribute to stone development.

Symptoms of Kidney Stones may Include:

In many cases vesicoureteral reflux does not display symptoms. However, it is often diagnosed after a child has a urinary tract infection (UTI). Common UTI symptoms include:

  • Severe pain in the belly, sides or lower back (pain may start and go away suddenly)
  • Pain that moves to groin area
  • Abnormal urine color
  • Blood in the urine
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Diagnosing Kidney Stones in Children May Include:

Since kidney stones can lodge in any part of the urinary system, to locate them a variety of imaging tests may be used including:

  • X-rays
  • Ultrasound
  • Computerized tomography (CT) scan

Treatment Options for Kidney Stones:

Treatment for kidney stones depends on the size of the stone and whether they are causing pain or blocking the urinary tract. Since most stones pass on their own, we may try to let the stone pass, while providing medicine to reduce pain. If we believe large, difficult or multiple stones could block urine flow or cause infection, we may use ultrasonic shockwave lithotripsy. This non-invasive procedure breaks stones into fragments so they more easily pass. Here is a look at other treatment options that may be utilized:

  • Small stones can sit in the kidney for months or even years without causing pain or damage.
  • Once stones grow larger, we may treat them even if they are not painful. Stones of this size can move into the ureter and block urine flow, causing severe pain.
  • Stones usually can be removed with either minimally invasive or non-invasive treatment.
  • Shock-wave lithotripsy is a non-invasive treatment using focused shock waves from outside the body on the kidney stone. The waves break larger stones into tiny fragments. The particles can easily pass in the urine.
  • Ureteroscopic laser lithotripsy – Some stones cannot be treated with shock-wave lithotripsy because of size, location, composition or other medical conditions. With ureteroscopic laser lithotripsy, while the patient is under anesthesia, we pass a tiny, pediatric-sized, fiber-optic camera into the urinary tract through the urethra to the stones’ location in the bladder, kidney or ureter. The laser breaks the stones into tiny pieces, which are flushed from the body.
  • Percutaneous Lithotripsy (Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy) is used to treat very large stones or those that can’t be treated with other methods. We make a tiny incision through which we pass a camera into the kidney. We can then fragment the stones using ultrasonic or laser lithotripsy.

How to Prevent Kidney Stones in the Future:

The good news is there are a variety of ways that you can prevent kidney stones in the future. To determine the underlying cause of reoccurring stones we perform:

  • A metabolic evaluation
  • Blood work
  • Urine studies

To help lower the chance of developing stones, we recommend:

  • Hydration – Drinking plenty of fluids can reduce the risk of urinary tract infections, a major cause of some kidney stones.
  • Dietary Changes – Depending on the stone’s composition and laboratory test results, we may suggest eating less meat and table salt.

Medication – Some patients benefit from medications. We may prescribe diuretics to decrease calcium excretion. Potassium citrate binds calcium and helps to remove it safely.

Our experts are here to help make the process of diagnosing and treating your child’s kidney stones as simple as possible. It is crucial that your doctor works with you to accurately diagnose your child’s symptoms and tailor a unique treatment plan to fit your specific needs. We at Western Michigan Urological Associates want to work with you to find the best option for you and your family. Ask Your Primary Care Provider for a Referral.