• Diagnosis of Kidney Stones

    Your doctor will ask you questions about your medical history, what medications you are currently taking, and whether anyone in your family suffers from kidney stones.

    Tests Used to Diagnose a Kidney Stone

    Your doctor may take a sample of your urine to see if there is an infection.
    An x-ray shows certain types of kidney stones. Most kidney stones can be seen on an x-ray. This test is helpful for knowing what type of stone you may have. Other studies are often needed to determine the specific spot in the kidney where the stone is located.
    A sonogram, also called an ultrasound, is a diagnostic technique that combines sound waves and computer imaging to view internal organs. This procedure provides a more detailed picture than you’d get from a single x-ray.
    Intravenous Pyelogram (IVP)
    For this test, a dye is injected into a vein. The dye highlights otherwise hard-to-see areas of your urinary tract as it passes out of your system. This makes it easier for your doctor to see the kidney stone on an x-ray. This procedure is less commonly used today because of the excellent images obtained with CT scans.
    Computerized Tomography (CT) Scan
    This procedure uses x-rays to take highly detailed pictures of your internal organs. A CT scan can spot small kidney stones that regular x-rays might miss.

    Tests Used to Determine the Type of Kidney Stone

    Blood tests help identify factors—such as high levels of calcium, uric acid, or the presence of infection—that can cause a kidney stone to develop.
    Urine will be tested for acidity and levels of substances, like calcium, uric acid, citrate, and oxalate, that can form kidney stones. This test provides a more accurate analysis than your doctor would get from a single urine sample.
    Stone Analysis
    Once a stone is recovered, it can be analyzed in a laboratory to determine its chemical make-up. This may help your healthcare provider make decisions about how you can prevent further stone formation.


    National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: http://www2.niddk.nih.gov/ .

    National Kidney Foundation website. Available at: http://www.kidney.org/ .

    Park S, Pearle MS. Imaging for percutaneous renal access and management of renal calculi. Urol Clin North Am. 2006;33:353-364.

    Parmar MS. Kidney stones. Brit Med J. 2004;328:1120-1124.

    Revision Information

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