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Kidney Stone Disease

 The urinary tract is comprised of the kidneys, the two tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder (the ureters), and the bladder itself. Stone disease develops when minerals normally present in the body crystallize to form small, hard stones called calculi, or stones.

These stones typically form in the kidneys (thus the common name, "kidney stones") and can migrate to the ureters or bladder.  They might also form in the bladder and, in some cases, the prostate gland. They form for a variety of reasons, ranging from urinary tract infections to dietary factors to genetics, but the most common cause is insufficient hydration.

Whatever their cause, kidney or bladder stones can cause severe, stabbing pain in the upper back, abdomen, groin and testicles as they move through the urinary tract. They can also block the flow of urine, causing infection and kidney damage.

There are many treatment options for urinary stones. Stones smaller than 5 to 6 mm may pass without treatment, though the process may take four to six weeks and may cause considerable intermittent pain. Medications can sometimes help stones pass. When these methods are not an option or are not effective, surgical treatments are used to remove the stones. Uncommon cases involving certain anatomical abnormalities may require open or laparoscopic surgery; however, stone disease is typically treated through three common procedures:

Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy

ESWL uses sound waves to break up stones from outside your body.


Ureteroscopy involves the use of a small flexible camera and instruments inserted through the urethra (no incisions necessary) into the bladder and up the ureter, where stones are broken up with a laser fiber or pulled out in small baskets.

Percutaneous Surgery

For larger stones and/or patients with certain anatomic abnormalities, the surgeon makes an incision in the back to directly reach the kidney and urinary tract in order to break up and remove the stones.

Once someone has a kidney stone they are at an increased risk for developing future stones.  That said, once treated your doctors can develop strategies to prevent recurrences.  For more information about kidney stones, visit the website.

UMass urologists have received advanced urological training for treating male urinary incontinence.

  • We offer the latest minimally invasive surgical techniques
  • We emphasize prevention and are experts in metabolic evaluation to develop personalized strategies that help decrease your chances of developing future stones

For an appointment with one of our experts please call 1-508-334-8765.