What are Bladder Stones?
The kidneys, ureters, the bladder, and the urethra are responsible for the function of the urinary system and the transport of urine. Bladder stones are hard masses formed by crystal deposits of minerals and salts in your urine. These stones can be either formed in the upper urinary system or within the bladder itself, causing trouble while urinating or increasing the risk of urinary infections.
Bladder Stones Signs and Symptoms
Most bladder stones cause no symptoms. However, if your bladder stone is large, it irritates the bladder’s internal surface and can block the urine flow to the urethra, the following symptoms can occur:
- Constant lower abdominal pain
- Pain during urination
- Increase frequency of urination
- Presence of blood in your urine
- Fever in case of an infection
Bladder Stones Common Causes
Bladder stones develop after the urine products like calcium, oxalate and uric acid, crystallize into hard masses. The principal reason for bladder stone formation is a dysfunction in the emptying of the bladder after urination, causing the urine to concentrate and to increase the minerals and salt products.
Some of the most common conditions related to bladder stones are the following:
- Benign prostatic hyperplasia. Since the prostate is enlarged, there is a mechanical obstruction of the urine flow, preventing the bladder from emptying completely.
- Altered nervous conduction. A condition known as neurogenic bladder, in which the nerve impulse that indicated your bladder muscles to tighten or release, is damaged and your bladder may not empty completely.
Bladder Stones Diagnosis
In case you show any of the typical symptoms related to bladder stones, your doctor will perform a physical exam and review your medical history, as a primary step for a proper diagnosis. Additionally, your doctor might order the following tests to confirm your condition, including:
- Urinary test. Looking at the substances that form stones.
- Blood test. In order to measure the calcium and uric acid levels in your blood.
- Imaging tests, as a way to identify the stones and its exact location. The most commonly used techniques include ultrasound and CT scan, which not only help to identify the stones but also any probable complication resulting from them.
Bladder Stones Treatment
In case the underlying cause of your bladder stones is a prostate or nervous condition, your doctor might suggest treating this condition first, in order to improve your bladder emptying capacity.
Usually, small bladder stones can pass naturally by drinking lots of water. However, there are some other cases that might require a more invasive treatment option, including:
After you receive your anesthetic medication, your doctor will insert a thin tube attached with a camera- ureteroscope- through your urethra to get to your bladder. Then, a laser or ultrasound breaks the stone into small pieces that can pass out of the body during urination.
In case your bladder stone is too large or if the previous treatment options didn’t work for you, your doctor might suggest a surgical procedure to remove your stones and solve your condition.