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Bladder stones

Definition

Bladder stones are hard buildups of minerals that form in the urinary bladder.

Alternative Names

Stones - bladder; Urinary tract stones; Bladder calculi

Causes

Bladder stones are usually the result of another urologic problem, such as:

Approximately 95% of all bladder stones occur in men. Bladder stones are much less common than kidney stones.

Bladder stones may occur when urine in the bladder is concentrated and materials crystallize. Bladder stones may also result from foreign objects in the bladder.

Symptoms

Symptoms occur when the stone irritates the lining of the bladder or obstructs the flow of urine from the bladder. Symptoms can include:

Incontinence may also be associated with bladder stones.

Exams and Tests

The health care provider will perform a physical exam, including a rectal examination. The exam may reveal an enlarged prostate or other problems.

Testing may reveal the following:

  • Bladder or pelvic x-ray may show stones.
  • Cystoscopy can reveal a stone in the bladder.
  • Urinalysis may show blood in the urine, crystals, or an infection.
  • Urine culture (clean catch) may reveal infection.

Treatment

Drinking 6 - 8 glasses of water or more per day to increase urinary output may help the stones pass.

Your health care provider may remove stones that do not pass on their own using a cystoscope (a small tube that passes through the urethra to the bladder).

Some stones may need to be removed using open surgery.

Medications are rarely used to dissolve the stones.

Causes of bladder stones should be treated. Most commonly bladder stones are seen with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) or bladder outlet obstruction.

For patients with BPH and bladder stones, transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) can be performed with stone removal.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Most bladder stones are expelled or can be removed without permanent damage to the bladder. They may come back if the cause is not corrected.

If the stones are left untreated, they may cause repeated urinary tract infections or permanent damage to the bladder or kidneys.

Possible Complications

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of bladder stones.

Prevention

Prompt treatment of urinary tract infections or other urologic conditions may help prevent bladder stones.

References

Ho K-LV, Segura JW. Lower urinary tract calculi. In: Wein AJ, ed. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 84.


Review Date: 6/17/2010
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine; Scott Miller, MD, Urologist in private practice in Atlanta, Georgia. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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