Kidney Stones

Kidney Stones: Glossary

Last modified: 
18/04/2012 - 16:31

Here are definitions of medical terms related to kidney stones.

Acidity: A condition in which the urine becomes more acid than normal.

Alkalinity: A condition in which the urine becomes more alkaline, and consequently less acid, than normal.

Amino acids: Chemical compounds that are the main components of protein and are used by the cells of the body to support life.

Antibiotic: A chemical agent, derived from a microorganism or synthetically, used to treat bacterial infections.

Bladder: The muscular sac within the abdomen that stores urine until it can be passed from the body.

Calcium stone: A kidney stone made primarily of calcium, either in the form of calcium oxalate, calcium phosphate, or a combination of the two.

Calyces: Small chambers into which urine is drained from the collecting ducts in the kidneys.

Cystine stone: A soft kidney stone composed primarily of the amino acid cystine.

Diuretic: A drug that promotes the formation and excretion of urine.

Enzyme: In the body, any protein that speeds up the rate of a chemical reaction.

Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL): A procedure for the pulverization of kidney stones. Shock waves created by high-voltage discharges are focused on the stone in the kidney.

Kidneys: The two urinary organs in which urine is manufactured.

Kidney stone: An accumulation of mineral salts and other substances that form a solid mass of various sizes within the kidney.

Lithotripsy: The crushing of a stone within the urinary system, followed by removal of the fragments, a procedure that may be done either noninvasively (without a surgical incision) or with minimally invasive techniques.

Laser: A source of intense radiation of the visible, ultraviolet, or infrared portions of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Laser lithotripsy: A minimally invasive surgical technique that uses focused laser energy to fragment a stone. It involves inserting a small instrument into the urethra and snaking it through the urinary tract to the ureter with the stone.

Lower urinary tract stone: A stone that forms or exists in the ureters or bladder.

Metabolism: The chemical processes in the body that promote growth, generate energy, eliminate waste, and perform other functions.

Mineral salt: An inorganic metallic substance occurring naturally in the earth's crust that is compounded with another inorganic nonmetallic substance to form a salt.

Nephroscope: A fiber-optic instrument that is used specifically for the disintegration and removal of kidney stones.

Percutaneous: A procedure performed through a small opening made in the skin.

Percutaneous ultrasonic lithotripsy: A minimally-invasive procedure that uses the energy of ultrasound to shatter kidney stones, the fragments of which can then be easily removed.

Radiography: The production of shadow images on photographic plates through the action of high-energy ionizing radiation.

Renal: Of or pertaining to the kidney.

Renal colic: Sharp, severe pain in the lower back, over the kidney, radiating forward into the groin.

Renal pelvis: The basin at the base of the kidney that drains urine from the renal calyces and transports urine into the ureter, with which it connects.

Renal tubules: The microscopic chemical factories in the kidneys that manufacture urine from filtered blood serum, at the same time conserving essential nutrients and other substances required by the body.

Staghorn stone: An irregularly shaped kidney stone that occupies most or all of the renal pelvis and has horn-like projections on the outside.

Stent: A tube-like device that is used to support an opening in a tubular organ in order to increase its diameter or prevent its collapse.

Struvite stone: A stone primarily composed of a combination of ammonium and magnesium phosphate, forming hard crystals identical to struvite rocks.

Upper urinary tract stone: A stone that exists in some portion of the kidney.

Ureter: One of a pair of tubes, about one foot long, that carries urine from each kidney to the bladder.

Urethra: A small tubular organ that drains urine from the bladder to the outside of the body.

Uric acid stone: A type of kidney stone whose main ingredient is uric acid, a product of protein metabolism that is present in blood and excreted in urine.

Urinary tract: All organs and ducts involved in the secretion and elimination of urine from the body.

Urinary tract infection: An infection, usually by bacteria, in one or more organs of the urinary tract.

Urination: The act of passing urine to the outside of the body.

Urine: The fluid secreted by the kidneys, transported by the ureters, stored in the bladder, and voided through the urethra.

Contributing Author: Guy Slowik FRCS

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Kidney Stones

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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.