Learning about how your doctor concludes that you have a kidney stone helps build confidence in his abilities and knowledge about your own body as well as lessens the apprehension about the actual diagnostic process. Let us break down the steps involved in kidney stone diagnosis as well as the equipment and lab tests used to reach a conclusion.
Steps to Kidney Stone Diagnosis
The first step is to establish if a kidney stone exists so that treatment can begin as soon as possible to alleviate the pain and discomfort. Once your doctor may suspect that you have a kidney stone due to the information you have provided about symptoms, such as sharp, sudden pains and difficulty in urinating, then an initial physical exam is conducted. After that, additional steps, such as laboratory tests, are implemented to reach a definitive answer. These steps help determine the type, size and severity of the stone or stones that you may have as well as whether the stone is blocking urine flow.
Since it is vital to get a treatment started as soon as possible, many doctors will not go to great lengths in their diagnosis unless your stone has returned or there is noticeable change in its size. If this is the case, the doctor will conduct tests that measure urine and blood chemistry in an attempt to find any metabolic disorders behind the problem. According to some research done, only 35% of people who have had stones before receive these tests from their doctor. The concern is that nearly half of young people who have kidney stones may do so because they have some sort of metabolic disorder, making them five times more likely to experience at least one other stone in their lifetime.
In making a kidney stone diagnosis, it is important for doctors to not jump to any conclusions. This is because there are a plethora of other disorders that mimic the signs of kidney stones. Sometimes, a urinary tract infections could be the cause of pain that seems similar to that of kidney stones. In this case, it is important to watch for chronic cases of an infection, which may be a sign that your risk for a kidney stone is greater. Similar pain can emanate from the same part of the body, confusing both you and the doctor.
What to Expect During the Physical Examination
As part of the kidney stone diagnosis, the doctor will manually add pressure with his hand around the abdomen to look for areas that seem tender or that you indicate hurt. The doctor may also use a closed fit to lightly hit each side of the spine just below the rib cage. This action can trigger a sharp shooting pain to move from your back area to the front of your body if a kidney stone is present.
Reviewing Your Medical History
Another important aspect of kidney stone diagnosis is to discuss your medical history, which will also include questions about other family members in an attempt to find any patterns of disorders or a sign of a genetic inclination towards kidney stones.
One factor that plays a major role is age. If you are young or you suspect your children may have a kidney stone, they are more likely to suffer than an adult would from a genetic inclination if one exists in your family. While children end up getting cystine, xanthine and calcium oxalate stones, adults commonly suffer from the calcium variety of kidney stones.
Remember that information is the key to kidney stone diagnosis. Before going to the doctor, get prepared. You might want to ask other family members about whether there have been any other kidney stone attacks or if there is any history of cancer, sarcoidosis, or small bowel disease. Also alert the doctor to any kind of medication you are currently taking. Not only does this mean sharing a list of prescribed medications, but it also includes over-the-counter substances, drugs, vitamins and herbal supplements, and antacids.
Follow these steps and somewhere along the line you’ll find the answer to the question: Do I Have Kidney Stones?