Kidney Stones

A kidney stone is a tiny, hard mass made up of tiny crystals that is located in either of the kidneys, the bean-shaped organs that filter waste products from the blood. There are several types of kidney stones, but the most common are composed mainly of calcium and are most likely to occur in men between age 20 and 30. They can develop over weeks or months, particularly among those who don’t drink enough fluids. Other types of kidney stones tend to occur in women with a urinary tract infection, people suffering from gout or undergoing chemotherapy, and people taking certain kinds of medications. Kidney stones also are associated with cystinuria, a rare condition in which stones made from an amino acid called cystine form in the kidneys, ureter, and bladder.

Sporadic pain in the belly, the groin, or in the side of the back typically is the first and most common symptom of a kidney stone, although symptoms may not be felt until the stone moves down into one of the ureters, the tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder. Though often painful, kidney stones typically do not cause permanent problems, and most smaller stones eventually are passed from the body during urination. Larger or more problematic stones, especially if they are blocking urine flow from the kidneys, may need to be broken up using sound or shock waves or removed using a tube (endoscope) or surgery. For some types of stones, medicine may be prescribed to prevent them from forming or to help break them up.


The UAB Department of Urology specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the genitourinary tract, which includes both the urinary and reproductive systems. This multidisciplinary team of urologists, radiation and medical oncologists, nurse practitioners, and urology nurses and technicians work together to provide the most accurate diagnoses and effective treatment options available for male and female adult and pediatric patients. U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks UAB’s urology program among the top 50 of its kind in the nation.

The physicians and surgeons who staff the UAB Department of Urology are subspecialists in their areas of expertise. Most faculty members have completed fellowships in addition to the conventional urology training, including training in cancer treatment, kidney stone disease, male infertility, pediatric urology, and female urology. UAB Urology specialists are members of the American Board of Urology, the American Urological Association, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the Society for the Study of Male Reproduction, the Society for Male Reproduction and Urology, the Society of Urologic Oncology, the Society of Female Urology and Urodynamics, and the American Medical Association, among others.




UAB is an active participant in research and clinical trials for the diagnosis and treatment of kidney stones. We encourage you to speak to your physician about research and clinical trial options and browse the link below for more information.

View Clinical Trials