What are kidney stones?
The formation of renal stones is called nephrolithiasis. It is quite common in India amongst all the age groups and has a better prognosis. Kidney stones or kidney calculi are the solid structures which are made up of various minerals. They can cause severe complications in the body especially in the urinary tract. Oxalate, pyruvate, calcium etc. are the major substances which form kidney stones. Kidney stones are common complications in the modern world due to bad eating habits, poor lifestyle, alcohol intake, stress, poor mental health and poor sleep patterns. A low intake of water contributes greatly to this condition. Kidney stones can be associated with various other conditions and symptoms which are further discussed in this article. Kidney stones give rise to typical signs and symptoms and require quick attention from a nephrologist.
What is kidney stone analysis?
It is a procedure where the composition of the kidney stone is identified by various medical and scientific methods. Some of the methods are:
- Collection of the stone: it is collected by a process called lithotripsy. It is also collected as it passes into the urine stream. Sometimes, surgical interventions are required to extract the stone for its analysis.
- Visual analysis: the stones are visually inspected for their colour, shape and size. It gives detailed and characteristic information about the type of the stone.
Physical analysis of kidney stones: As mentioned earlier, kidney stones are composed of diverse materials. To identify the composition of the calculi renal stone analysis is performed. It is a reliable diagnostic method.
A patient who is suspected to have renal stones is initially examined based on the symptoms. Later, the patient is examined on the basis of his/her urine sample. If there happens to be an appearance of a calculi, it is filtered out and subjected to various tests which are discussed below,
- Physical examination: the doctor examines the stone based on its colour, shape and size. This gives the doctor an idea about the type of calculi.
- Calcium oxalate stones: rough in their texture and appear quite irregular with spikes appearing on their surface. It can range from a very small size to a large one. Appears brownish yellow in colour.
- Uric acid calculi/stones: smooth in its texture and appear regular in shape usually being elliptical or egg shaped. It appears to have a colour of yellow to light brown.
- Calcium phosphate combined stones: it is smooth, grey in colour and similar to the calcium stone
- Mixed stones: a combination of all the above stones.
- Examination: The composition of the stone is identified based on its structural representation like crystalline or non-crystalline. It is further subjected to chemical testing where laboratory investigations reveal the minerals based on their reactions with the chemicals.
- Investigatory techniques: X-rays may sometimes reveal the structure of the crystal.
- Molecular and quantitative analysis: organic and inorganic substances are identified in this type of analysis.
Why is kidney stone analysis important?
- To identify the type, size, composition and structure of the stone.
- To decide based on the type of the stone, what treatment would be better.
- To identify the severity of the condition.
- It helps in determining the status of the condition and preventing it from progressing
- It gives objective information about the condition.
- To properly schedule and decide dietary plan for the patient.
What is the interpretation of the kidney stone analysis?
- Interprets stone make-up/composition: e.g. uric acid stone, calcium stone, struvite stone, oxalate stone
- Interprets combination: e.g. calcium oxalate stone, calcium phosphate stone etc.
- Associated factors: e.g. urinary tract infection, urine composition etc.
- Treatment: it brings the clinician to the final conclusion of the treatment plan for the patient.
Who should undergo kidney stone analysis?
- Patients with a previous history of the same condition
- Sever sharp shooting back ache leading to the diagnosis of kidney stone
- Severe stomach ache concluding stone
- Urinary tract infection which is unresolved after the treatment.
- Suspected individuals which include alcoholics, and steroid abusers.
- Post treatment analysis.
Who performs kidney stone analysis?
It is a highly skilled job to analyse kidney stones. The team include:
- Laboratory technicians
- Nursing staff
Certified and reputed hospitals and doctors are the best to perform this test.
Basic process of kidney stone analysis.
- The nephrologist orders the test in case required
- The stone is then collected by either urine stream or surgical procedures.
- This sample is then sent to the highly equipped laboratory and analysis centres.
- Skilled lab technicians perform chemical activities and analysis on the stone.
- Interpretation is given by the physician, nephrologist and radiologist if necessary.
Points to remember
- Analysing the kidney stone is very essential to cure the issue as each type of the stone needs a different type of treatment.
- Consulting a certified medical professional is mandatory
- Take this test only if recommended
- It is an objective test.
Kidney stones are solid structures which are pathologically formed in the kidneys. They can be composed of calcium, oxalate, uric acid etc kidney stone analysis is essential to identify the type, composition, size and structure of the stone. It gives the nephrologist a clear idea about the treatment protocol of the patient. Patients with the same history, high risk of stones, and medical recommendations should opt for this test. It is an objective and highly specific test. It involves a highly skilled team to perform it and one should go to a reputed and certified hospital for the same. The process involves recommendation, collection of the stone, chemical analysis, interpretation and reporting of the data. It is a must do test when prescribed by a certified medical professional.