What Is It?
Kidney stones are abnormal, hard, chemical deposits that form inside the kidneys. This condition also is called nephrolithiasis or urolithiasis.
Kidney stones are often as small as grains of sand. They pass out of the body in urine without causing discomfort.
However, the deposits can be much larger—the size of a pea, a marble or even larger. Some of these larger stones are too big to be flushed from the kidney.
Some kidney stones manage to travel into the ureter. This is the narrow tube between the kidney and bladder. The stones may become trapped in the ureter. Trapped kidney stones can cause many different symptoms. These include:
There are several different types of stones. They form for a variety of reasons. Kidney stones are grouped into four different families, based on their chemical composition:
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