What are kidney stones?
Kidney stones are hard masses that form from the over-concentration of chemicals, minerals, and salts in urine. Usually, urine absorbs these waste substances from the blood, and a body excrete them through the urinary tract. But when the quantity of these substances increases, they crystallise and collect inside the kidneys. Over time, these crystals turn into stone-like lumps.
The lumps can range in size–they can be as minuscule as a grain of sand or as large as a lemon. The small stones usually go undetected and cause little to no uneasiness. Increasing daily fluid intake can help speed up the process of passing the stone from the system. The bigger kidney stones are known to be painful. The pain can be intermittent but severe, and the stones also do not allow urine to flow freely because they might travel down to the ureter and get lodged there. A person with kidney stones might experience the sensation of incomplete urination and bloody pee.
Kidney stones can happen when a person does not consume enough water. If an individual does not drink enough water, they do not generate enough urine, and the waste substances stay in their body. If kidney stones are common in one’s family, then they can be prone to having them too. Having a high protein diet, eating high sodium foods, being obese or gaining weight, and having digestive conditions like IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and Crohn’s disease can also increase the risk of kidney stones.
How are kidney stones diagnosed?
A physical examination and noting the patient’s medical history are the initial steps towards diagnosis. Then the doctor will also order blood tests, urinalysis, and imaging tests to have a clear overview of the patient’s condition.
What are kidney stone treatments?
Surgical intervention is needed when kidney stones are too large to be treated with at-home methods like drinking fluids and taking medication that can break them and dissolve them into the urine.
There are different methods of kidney stone removal, all of which are safe and effective. However, they do not eliminate the possibility of developing kidney stones again. Talk to a doctor about preventive methods to avoid kidney stones.
Here is a look at some common kidney stone treatments:
Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL): ESWL is a routine procedure for the removal of kidney stones that cannot be passed through urine. High-frequency sound waves are pointed towards the kidney stone to break it into smaller pieces. The patient will be given a dose of painkillers so that they are not uncomfortable during the procedure. After this, the patient can pass the broken-up stone when they urinate.
Ureteroscopy: Often, the kidney stone does not stay within the kidney but flows down to the ureter where it gets stuck. So, the patient is unable to pee and can be in a lot of pain. A thin, lighted telescope equipped with a camera is inserted into the patient’s urethra and bladder and then is passed into the ureter. The surgeon can either remove the stone with another specialised instrument or with a laser. This procedure is carried out while the patient is under general anaesthesia.
Percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PCNL): PCNL is usually an alternative to ESWL, especially if ESWL is not suitable for the patient. Obese individuals, for instance, will be advised against ESWL. A nephroscope, which is a thin telescopic instrument, is passed through a tiny incision in the patient’s back to reach the stone-affected kidney. The surgeon will most likely use laser or special tools to either extract or break the stone. This surgery is also performed under general anaesthesia. It is advised that the patient not partake in any major physical activities like exercising or driving post 48 hours of this procedure.
Open surgery: This is usually how kidney stones were operated on in the past before surgical techniques became relatively sophisticated and painless. Open surgery is useful but comes with its own risks. The chances of infections are higher, and the recovery time is much, much longer than that required for any of the abovementioned procedures. Nowadays, open surgery only takes place in rare instances, like when the location of the kidney stone is hard to reach, if there is an abnormality in the urinary system, or if previous methods of intervention have not given desirable results.
Kidney stone operation costs can vary in India depending on the type of procedure a person needs to undergo, the city they live in, and the hospital they choose. Health insurance that includes this condition can help a patient manage kidney stones surgery cost. The price of the procedures can roughly range from Rs 25,000 to Rs 1 Lakh.
Besides the kidney stone laser treatment cost or open surgery cost, the patient will also have to factor in other expenses like pre-surgery costs (including urology profile and consultation fee), medication, and hospital stay (if necessary).
If the choice of hospital is a government one, then the overall expenses will be significantly lower than those incurred in a private hospital. The choice of rooms for the post-surgery stay in the private hospital (regular, deluxe, or super deluxe) can also contribute to the cost depending on the hospital and the city the patient is in. It’s ideal going to a hospital where one can have little to no financial burden and get good care.
An estimate of the abovementioned kidney stone operation costs is:
Shockwave lithotripsy (ESWL): INR 40,000 to INR 55,000
Uteroscopy: INR 65,000 to INR 1,50,000
Percutaneous nephrolithotripsy (PCNL): INR 70,000 to INR 85,000
Open surgery: INR 40,000 to INR 70,000