Skip to Content

Stone Disease Care and Treatment

Why Choose Treatment for Stone Disease at University of Colorado Hospital?

Request an appointment

Contact us

Call (720) 848-1800 or submit an online form

The Urology and Urodynamics Clinic at University of Colorado Hospital is recognized nationally for its care. Our doctors have training in caring for a variety of urologic conditions, including stone disease.

We offer our patients access to the latest research and testing and treatment options.

What is Stone Disease?

Stone disease is when small masses of minerals from the urine build up somewhere in the urinary system.

There are three main types of stone disease:

  • Kidney stones
  • Ureteral stones
  • Bladder stones

Stone disease may not cause symptoms. However, if it irritates the walls of the kidney, urinary tract or bladder, or blocks the flow of urine, it can be very painful.

Symptoms can include:

  • Pain and cramping in the abdomen, back or side
  • Painful, frequent, or difficult urination
  • Urine flow that is interrupted
  • Urine leakage (incontinence)
  • Bloody urine
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Groin pain

Tests & Treatments

Tests for Stone Disease


  • Physical exam. Your doctor may check to see if your abdomen is distended; for men, your doctor might perform a rectal exam to check for an enlarged prostate.
  • Urinalysis. Urine is tested for various compounds such as nitrates, blood, bacteria and crystallized minerals.
  • Cystoscopy. Examination of the inside of the bladder. A small tube with a camera at the end is inserted into the urethra and bladder.
  • X-ray. Takes a picture of your urinary tract.
  • Intravenous pyelogram. A dye is injected into a vein in your arm. The dye travels to your kidneys, ureters and bladder, and highlights the organs. Then X-rays are taken.
  • Ultrasound. Sound waves are bounced off the urinary tract to create pictures.
  • Computerized tomography (CT) scan. Uses special X-ray equipment that produces multiple pictures of the urinary tract.


Treatments for Stone Disease


  • Diet change. Your doctor may direct you to increase your water intake or modify your diet, as certain foods can contribute to stone disease.
  • Medication. Prescribed medications can control elements in the urine that cause stone disease.
  • Extracorporeal shockwave lithotrips. Shock waves are created outside of the body. They travel through the skin and body tissue and hit the stones. The stones break down into smaller pieces and pass through the urinary tract. Anesthesia is used, and the procedure is generally done on an outpatient basis. There is a short recovery time.
  • Percutaneous nephrolithotomy. A surgeon creates a tunnel into the kidney from a small incision in the back. The stone is removed using a nephroscope (a kidney telescope). This procedure usually requires a three-day hospital stay.
  • Ureteroscopic stone removal. A surgeon moves a ureteroscope (a small fiberoptic instrument) through the urethra and bladder, into the ureter. The stone is either removed or shattered with a shock wave.
  • Cystolitholapaxy. A doctor moves a cytoscope (a small tube with a camera) through the urethra and into the bladder. A laser, ultrasound or mechanical device breaks the stone into pieces and flushes them from the bladder. Regional or general anesthesia is used.

Patient Education

Living With Stone Disease

Once you have had stone disease, you're likely to experience more stones. It is important to drink larger amounts of fluid, specifically water. In addition, your doctor might suggest restricting certain foods from your diet that can contribute to stone disease. Also, there are medications you can take that help control elements that cause stone disease.


If you have experienced stone disease, a urologist can work with you to identify the cause and possible treatments.


Additional Stone Disease Resources

National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse
Comprehensive information about kidney stones.


American Urological Association Foundation
Current and comprehensive urologic health information for patients, researchers and the public.


American Urological Associaton
A patient education site written and reviewed by urology experts.


National Kidney Foundation
Dedicated to preventing kidney disease, improving the health and well being of individuals and families affected by kidney disease and increasing the availability of all organs for transplant.