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How Are Kidney Stones Diagnosed

Posted Feb 24 2010 6:41pm


Do you have kidney stones? You will never know until you are examined by a doctor because the symptoms associated with this problem are very similar to UTI or urinary tract infection.

So, you have to set an appointment with the doctor. While there, he or she will review your medical history and conduct a physical examination before running some tests.

If you are a regular patient of the doctor, it will be easy to pull your file out. However, if this is your first time, you will have to fill up the form and get your medical files.

Your medical history does not say much about kidney stones especially if you have never had this before which is why the next step is to conduct a physical examination. Here, the doctor will look at you physically and touch certain areas. This is hard for the doctor to do if the patient is in extreme pain.

So the best way to confirm initial findings is through laboratory tests. The doctor will either extract blood or ask a urine sample from you.

You may also have to be scanned and there are a variety of machines for that. These include a computed tomography (CT) scan, intravenous pyelogram (IVP), retrograde pyelogram, and the regular X-ray.

The CT scan is used for various examinations. A scanner and a computer are used to create images of the urinary system. The only problem is that it has difficulty detecting small stones if they are located near the bladder. If a stone is found, an x-ray follows to determine the orientation, shape and size of the kidney stone.

Intravenous Pyelogram or IVP is done after a contrasting agent is injected into the vein. Within minutes, the test will show if there is a kidney stone blocking the ureter. This is perhaps the best method to check if you have kidney stones even if there is a slight risk for an allergic reaction to the fluid that was injected into the vein.

If you think that the ultrasound is only used to see the baby growing inside the womb, think again because it can also be used to detect a dilated upper urinary tract and kidney if the stone is lodged in the ureter. Its limitation is that it cannot detect kidney stones that are no longer in the kidney area.

Another term for retrograde pyelogram is a cytoscopy. The test begins by inserting a telescopic instrument into the bladder. Then, similar to the IVP, a contrast agent is injected into this opening and an x-ray is done to find the kidney stone.

Some doctors say this is better than IVP because there is no way to get an allergic reaction from the contrasting agent. This is because you will first be injected with anesthesia so in essence, you don’t feel anything.

Among the different tests done to detect kidney stones, this is only used when other tests have proven to be inadequate or unsuccessful.

It is only after careful diagnosis that doctors will be able to tell if you have kidney stones or not. From there, they can treat you by giving some medication or advising you to drink lots of water because you may be able to expel the stones on your own. But if this does not work, then surgery is the next option.

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