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Kidney Stones

How Are Kidney Stones Diagnosed?

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Contributing Author: Guy Slowik FRCS

The doctor will make a diagnosis of kidney stones with:

Clinical History

The doctor will ask questions in order to determine a person's clinical history, which can help to establish the cause of stone formation. The doctor will ask about:

  • Lifestyle
  • Diet
  • Fluid intake
  • Past experience with kidney stones
  • Family history of kidney stones

Physical Examination

A physical examination can reveal conditions that place a person at higher risk for stone formation. These include:

  • Specific diseases and medical conditions
  • Certain injuries
  • Recent immobilization
  • Abdominal scars, which may be indications of previous surgery

Laboratory Evaluation

The person's blood and urine will be studied to measure the levels of calcium, electrolytes, uric acid, and other components. In addition, the acidity of the urine is checked. When possible, a kidney stone itself will be analyzed to determine the type of stone so that the appropriate treatment can be planned.

X-ray Evaluation

X-rays can be used to identify the location of an obstruction and may even help determine the type of stone.





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From Andrew Maynard - Chair of the University of Michigan Department of Environmental Health Sciences, with help from David Faulkner - 2013 Master of Public Health graduate.