Urology Blog

Pediatric Urology: Can Kids Get Kidney Stones?

Doctor urologist consultation for male child.Kidney stones are rock-hard stones that form in the kidneys. They are much more common in adults than in children, but it is possible for kids to develop them. It is important to know what causes this problem, how to spot the signs, and what to do if your child exhibits the symptoms of kidney stones. The primary symptom is pain, which can occur even if a kidney stone is very small, so it is understandably stressful for kids who get them, as well as their caregivers.

What Causes Kidney Stones?

Kidney stones can develop when there is a high concentration of crystal-forming substances in the urine. These include uric acid, oxalate, and calcium. When too much of any one of these is present in the urine, small particles stick together. The stone forms in the renal pelvis where urine collects before it travels to the ureter. It isn’t the presence of the stone in the kidney that causes pain; it is the passage of the stone through the ureter. This canal is small and delicate even in adults. It is especially small in children. When a kidney stone passes through the ureter, it can create a blockage of urine. Everything behind the blockage becomes swollen and irritated, resulting in unilateral pain.

Too much of a crystal-forming substance is the direct cause of a kidney stone, but what causes this buildup is equally important. Some of the reasons kidney stones form include:

  • Not enough citric acid in the diet (fresh citrus fruits provide this)
  • Not drinking enough water
  • Eating too much salt

Health conditions that may increase a child’s risk of developing kidney stones include:

  • Urinary tract infections
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Thyroid conditions
  • Kidney conditions

Do Kidney Stones Have to be Treated?

Sometimes, kidney stones can pass on their own. Until that time, it may be necessary to take over-the-counter pain medication as directed. It is also necessary to drink plenty of water. The child’s pediatrician may make other recommendations as well. However, lab tests and imaging should be performed to identify the location and size of the stone before a treatment recommendation is made. Some stones do require clinical intervention such as Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy or Ureteroscopy to break up a stone so it can pass naturally.

UT Urology offers patient-centered pediatric urology care to restore comfort and peace of mind quickly. To schedule a consultation, contact our Chattanooga office at (423) 778-5910.

Facts about Kidney Cancer

March is Kidney Cancer Awareness Month. Did you know that this type of cancer is one of the 10 most common in America? It is estimated that more than 70,000 new cases occur each year. More men than women are diagnosed with this disease, and usually later in life. It is our job to inform people of the risks, symptoms, and treatment options related to kidney cancer because, as we have seen with other types of disease, knowledge is power.

What Causes Kidney Tumors?

There is no singular cause that has been identified through scientific research. Studies indicate the factors that can contribute to the formation of kidney masses. They include:

  • Obesity and poor eating habits
  • Smoking
  • Heredity
  • Exposure to chlorinated chemicals
  • High blood pressure

Symptoms of a Kidney Mass

Symptoms are rare during the early stages of a kidney mass. As the tumor grows, the following may occur:

  • Side pain between the ribs and hips
  • Persistent pain on one side of the low back that is not related to an injury
  • Blood in the urine
  • Low red blood cell count
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Persistent fever unrelated to infection

Diagnosing and Treating Kidney Masses

More than half of kidney tumors are found accidentally. The mass may be discovered during a routine exam or screening to assess another health complaint. A urologist is often involved in the diagnostic process and is the specialist who develops the most appropriate treatment plan for kidney tumors. Using various labs and forms of diagnostic imaging, a urologist grades and stages the tumor. Treatment is then planned based on that measurement. The goal of treatment is to eliminate cancer cells and, when possible, preserve kidney function.

Not all kidney tumors require surgery. Generally, treatment options include:

  • Active surveillance. Periodic measurements of the tumor. Appropriate for tumors up to 3 cm.
  • The use of hot or cold therapy to destroy the tumor.
  • Partial nephrectomy. The removal of part of the kidney.
  • Radical nephrectomy. Complete removal of the affected kidney.

In our Chattanooga, TN urology office, our mission is to treat urologic conditions such as kidney tumors promptly, so the patient can regain peace of mind and quality of life. To learn more about our services, call: (423) 778-5910.

Can Children Get Kidney Stones?

kidney stones pediatricKidney stones are not uncommon. Many adults require treatment for this condition at some point. But children? Could a solid piece of material formed from matter in the urine get trapped in a child’s kidney? Yes, it could. Here, we discuss details about kidney stones and what parents need to know about pediatric urology as a resource for kidney stone symptoms.

What is a Kidney Stone?

A kidney stone gets its name from its structure. A stone is a solid piece of matter that forms when substances found in the urine become concentrated in the kidneys. Kidney stones may remain in the kidneys or may travel down the urinary tract, depending on size. When a small kidney stone passes, it may present no symptoms at all. The larger a stone is, the more likely it is to cause discomfort, urinary problems, and even blood in the urine.

The urinary tract is a type of drainage system through which extra water and wastes are removed from the body. This system includes two kidneys, two ureters, the bladder, and one urethra. One kidney is located on each side of the body, toward the middle of the back and below the ribs. These small organs filter about 3 ounces of blood every minute. Wastes and extra water are removed from the blood and become urine. Urine is stored in the bladder until it is excreted through the ureter.

Kidney Stones in Children

Studies are ongoing to measure statistics related to pediatric kidney stones. Urologists have reported an increasing number of cases in recent years, though it is unclear why. Based on current information, we know that kidney stones are more common in adults but could occur in infants, children, and teens of all ethnicities.

Kidney stones form as a result of a buildup of particular materials found in the urine. These include magnesium calcium, phosphorous, and oxalate. This accumulation of matter may occur for several reasons. In children, it seems as though kidney stones are primarily diagnosed secondary to an anatomic abnormality in the urinary tract. 

However, genetic and lifestyle factors can also contribute to this condition.

If a child has pain while urinating, sharp pain in the lower abdomen or back, or blood in the urine, they could benefit from a visit with a pediatric urologist. In cases of small kidney stones, no formal treatment may be needed. Larger kidney stones may be broken apart using focused ultrasound waves. Our renowned team of urologists develops treatment based on the factors of each case.

We’re here to help you and your family thrive. Call (423) 778-5910 for more information regarding pediatric urology and kidney stones.

What are Kidney Stones?

The kidneys perform vital functions that support overall health. What most people know about these small organs is that they filter toxins and wastes from the blood. This is true. The blood filters through the kidneys, which remove unnecessary substances and release them through the urine. While filtration is a major responsibility, the kidneys do even more. These organs produce hormones that are involved in the production of red blood cells and that promote healthy blood vessel constriction. When problems occur in the kidneys, we want to know why and how we can help the kidneys function at optimal capacity.

The formation of kidney stones can be a serious problem if not handled properly. According to statistics, an estimated 19 percent of men and 9 percent of women will likely develop kidney stones in their lifetime. Once a person has experienced one bout of kidney stones, they are more likely to face the same problem again in the future. Here, we discuss what causes this condition, how kidney stones may present physically, and what may be done if kidney stones are found.

What are Kidney Stones, and What Causes Them?

Fluid in the blood is integral to the sufficient filtration of wastes through the kidneys. When the blood does not have enough fluid, wastes that get filtered in the kidneys may stick together. This causes crystals known as kidney stones to form. A kidney stone may remain in the kidney or it may travel to the urethra, the tube that connects the kidney to the bladder. In severe cases, a kidney stone may create a blockage that prevents urine flow.

Types of Kidney Stones

  • Kidney stones may be formed from various substances, including:
  • Most kidney stones are a combination of calcium and oxalate or calcium and phosphate.
  • Uric acid. This type of stone occurs when there is too much uric acid in the urine, causing particles to clump together into crystals.
  • Struvite kidney stones contain ammonium, magnesium, and phosphate. They may occur in people who experience frequent or persistent urinary tract infections.
  • Cystine is a chemical that is naturally found in the kidneys. Cystine kidney stones may form as a rare genetic disorder that involves the leakage of this chemical from the kidneys into the urine.

Symptoms of Kidney Stones

Not all kidney stones prompt symptoms. Smaller stones may pass without causing discomfort. Larger stones may present symptoms such as:

  • Intense pain in the back or lower abdomen
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Blood in the urine
  • Difficulty urinating if a kidney stone is blocking urine flow
  • Some people develop a fever

Do Kidney Stones Have to be Treated?

Some kidney stones can pass through the urinary tract without any indication that they are even there. If symptoms occur, a urologic exam should be scheduled. A urologist can review symptoms and order specific tests to determine if kidney stones are the cause. Stones can be measured to estimate their likelihood of passing naturally. If this is not likely, the standard approach is to use ultrasound or other modalities to dissolve stones into small fragments that can then be passed through the urine.

The team at UT Urology in Chattanooga is here to help you. If you are showing signs of kidney stones, schedule your visit with us at (423) 778-5910.

Kidney Stones: Can Recurrence be Prevented?

Kidney Stones Chattanooga TNKidney stones are not something we expect to experience, and yet 12% of us will. Once this temporary health problem occurs once, there is a strong chance that we will see it again. In fact, research tells us that a person who has one bout of kidney stones has a 50% chance of having another at some point. At UT Urology, we provide care that resolves kidney stones safely and efficiently. We also discuss with patients how they might reduce their risk of recurrence.

Risk Reduction Made Easy

Often, the first line of defense in combating existing kidney stones is to modify dietary and lifestyle habits. Making healthy changes can promote the passing of kidney stones. Therefore, it makes sense to also turn to diet as a method of reducing the potential for recurring stones. Suggestions for risk reduction include:

  • Drink more water. Hydration is an integral aspect of optimal physical function. As the kidneys are a filtration system, their need for hydration is high. Every person needs at least8 tall glasses of water a day. For individuals who engage in strenuous exercise, hot yoga, or who use a sauna, water consumption is even more important because they need to replenish what is sweat out.
  • Drink less alcohol. Actually, we might also lump coffee into this list. Studies have revealed that both coffee and alcohol deplete the body of water. The diuretic effects of such beverages are compounded by the increased storage of uric acid that results from consumption. With uric acid a prime factor in kidney stone development, this is a compound we want to minimize in the blood.
  • Drink your lemon. Research has shown that lemons and limes contain high concentrations of citrate, a natural salt that inhibits calcium crystallization and growth. To get the full benefits of this suggestion, drink two, 5-ounce glasses of lemon juice a day. Dilute this juice with water and add stevia for a refreshing beverage!
  • Drink milk. Ok, not everyone can drink milk. The real tip is to get more calcium. This may sound counterintuitive because calcium is a factor in certain types of kidney stones. However, studies also suggest that we need a sufficient amount of calcium to diminish the chance of calcium oxalate kidney stones.

Do you have questions about kidney stones? Call our Chattanooga urology office at (423) 778-8765.

Are You Doing These Things to Take Care of Your Kidneys?

Kidney Stones Chattanooga TNKidney function isn’t something most people think about. The fist-sized organs that are partially responsible for waste elimination and detoxification just work. We don’t have to know how we just have to know they’re doing their job. Giving a little TLC to your kidneys is a good thing, though, even if you’re not facing particular risks or conditions at the moment. Here, we point out four ways that you can take great care of your kidneys without much effort at all.

  1. We tend to hear a lot about the value of staying hydrated; and yet, we forget to sip a little here and there. As an alternative, what many people do is down a whole glass of water from time to time. This doesn’t hydrate, and the kidneys need a steady stream of healthy fluid coming through to maintain function.
  2. Eat well. Did you know there is a way of eating that optimizes kidney function? The National Kidney Foundation calls it the kidney-friendly diet, and you know what? It’s the same dietary structure that feeds the heart, well. Primarily, the kidney-friendly diet calls for low sodium and lots of fruits and vegetables. An easy first step in the right direction would be to steer away from processed foods.
  3. Some people refer to exercise as “getting the blood pumping.” This is exactly why exercise is good for the kidneys, as well as the heart and all other organs because it gets the blood circulating through the body.
  4. No smoking, please. Kidneys are doing enough to detoxify the body without having to face the toxic chemicals in cigarettes. Furthermore, these chemicals clog the arteries and vessels, making it harder for blood to profuse the kidneys with necessary fluid.

Kidney health is something we hope you do not have to struggle with. In the unforeseen circumstance of kidney disease, kidney stones, or other conditions, we are here to help you with the latest proven treatments in urology. For questions or to schedule care in our Chattanooga office, call (423) 778-8765.

Dr. Amar Singh Featured in an Article

kidney stone article chattanooga, tn

Dr. Amar Singh featured in the article, “After rough ride, Jim Trubey is back in his Santa suit.” Read the full article here or watch a video about Santa Jim to learn more about Dr. Singh’s kidney stone treatment.

Kidney Cancer: it’s Worth Discussion

kidney-problemsWhen we hear about cancer, it is usually breast cancer or skin cancer. However, did you know that kidney cancer is up there among the top ten cancer diagnoses in our country? It is estimated that approximately 14,000 deaths may occur each year as a result of this disease. It is not the risk of mortality that warrants discussion, although that is, of course, important. What we want to point out is that 75-80% of patients diagnosed with stage I or II kidney cancer survive. The more you know, the better you can guard your health.

The Healthy Kidneys

Kidneys are known as the filtration system for the blood. Every day, these to bean-shaped organs cleanse approximately 150 quarts of blood. They remove not only water but waste, which are then excreted as urine. The kidneys also house the adrenal glands, which are crucial to regulation of sex hormones, fluids, potassium, and blood sugar. The adrenals produce adrenaline when we are stressed, and aid in the production of red blood cells via erythropoetin.

Tumors and what They Could Mean

It is not the presence of a tumor or lesion on the kidney that raises concerns, it is the likelihood that a tumor could be malignant, or cancerous. Symptoms of kidney tumors may include:

  • Back, abdominal, or side pain that lingers
  • Blood in the urine
  • Chronic fatigue and diagnosed anemia
  • An abdominal lump
  • Poor appetite followed by weight loss

If a kidney tumor is suspected, further evaluation will take place with ultrasound examination, urinalysis, blood work, and other diagnostic testing as needed to confirm status of the condition.

Kidney cancer may be treated in a number of ways. How we treat the condition will depend on several factors, including the stage and grade of the tumor itself, age of the patient, health history and general health at the time of treatment, and the anatomy of the kidney.

When kidney cancer is caught early, surgical removal of the tumor often provides an excellent prognosis. Additional therapies to consider include radiation, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy.

If you have a history of kidney cancer in your family, or want to know more about risk factors for this condition, speak with your physician. We are also happy to answer questions regarding kidney cancer diagnostic testing and treatment options. Contact UT Urology at (423) 778-8765.


Minimize your Risk of Kidney Stones

kidney stone prevention TNIf you know someone who has had a kidney stone, you know someone who has likely experienced some of the worst pain of his or her life. Because stones are more prevalent in men than in women, and because one bout with kidney stones creates a higher likelihood of another, we want to help you implement habits that will reduce your risk.

What are Kidney Stones?

Kidney stones are small crystals that form in the urinary tract. They may be comprised of oxalate and calcium, or of cystine, uric acid, or struvite. Calcium and oxalate stones are the most common. As if the painful presence of stones were not enough, this condition can lead to other, more serious problems, such as infection or kidney necrosis.

Preventing Kidney Stones

Research on kidney stones has revealed that there may be several dietary habits that lower one’s risk of initial or future stones. These include:

  • Drink as much water as possible. Usually 10, 10-oz glasses of water are recommended. Dehydration is a key risk factor in developing urinary stones. Drinking caffeinated beverages, and alcohol may dehydrate you further. Apple cider vinegar and beer, no matter what you have heard, do not help prevent stones or help with stone passage. Switching from regular to diet soda may be helpful but does not take then place of drinking water.
  • Lemon water provides you with necessary potassium citrate. This alkalizing drink can inhibit the formation of stones by lowering the acidity of urine. Potassium citrate can also prevent existing stones from growing. For therapeutic benefit, you need 4oz of lemon juice throughout the day, added to water. Lemonade usually has too much sugar and may not help with stone prevention.
  • Limit animal protein intake.
  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. They contain potassium, fiber, magnesium, antioxidants, phytate and citrate, all of which may help keep stones from forming.
  • Minimize salt intake to decrease calcium in the urine.
  • Reduce the amount of oxalate in your diet. Foods that include high amounts of oxalate include spinach, rhubarb, almonds, chocolate, peanuts or tea. You do not have to remove these things completely from your diet but consuming them in moderation is recommended.
  • Reduce refined sugar intake, as some substances promote acid retention in the urine which can lead to uric acid stones.

Individuals who have had recurrent stones, complex, large stones, or developed them as children may require an extensive evaluation of their blood and urine to determine the exact cause.

Our practice also offers supplements to help reduce stone formation. These may be beneficial if you are unable to strictly adhere to the dietary and lifestyle suggestions above or can be used in addition to the other prevention measures. We utilize Theralith XR(link This has a combination of vitamins and minerals designed to support and maintain normal urine chemistry.

Questions about kidney stones? Call UT Erlanger Urology. Our urologists located in Chattanooga are experts in managing simple and complicated stone disease. We are a teaching and research site for Boston Scientific and offer cutting-edge and minimally invasive ways to treat stones. We also strive to educate our patients on ways to prevent stones from forming so as to avoid any further pain and lost time with family and at work.

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