The urinary tract, or system, consists of the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs located below the ribs toward the middle of the back. The kidneys remove extra water and wastes from the blood, converting it to urine. They also keep astable balance of salts and other substances in the blood. The kidneys produce hormones that help build strong bones and help form red blood cells.
Kidney stones, one of the most painful of the urologic disorders, are not a product of modern life. Scientists have found evidence of kidney stones in a 7,000-year-old Egyptian mummy. Unfortunately, kidney stones are one of the most common disorders of the urinary tract. In 2000,patients made 2.7 million visits to health care providers and more than 600,000 patients went to emergency rooms for kidney stone problems. Men tend to be affected more frequently than women.
Most kidney stones pass out of the body without any intervention by a physician. Stones that cause lasting symptoms or other complications may be treated by various techniques ,most of which do not involve major surgery. Also, research advances have led to a better understanding of the many factors that promote stone formation.
Introduction to the Urinary Tract
Narrow tubes called ureters carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder, a noval-shaped chamber in the lower abdomen. Like a balloon, the bladder's elastic walls stretch and expand to store urine. They flatten together when urine is emptied through the urethra to outside the body.
What is a kidneystone? A kidney stone is a hard mass developed from crystals that separate from the urine and build up on the inner surfaces of the kidney .Normally, urine contains chemicals that prevent or inhibit the crystals from forming. These inhibitors do not seem to work for everyone, however, so some people form stones. If the crystals remain tiny enough, they will travel through the urinary tract and pass out of the body in the urine without being noticed.
Kidney stones may contain various combinations of chemicals. The most common type of stone contains calcium in combination with either oxalate or phosphate. These chemicals are part of a person's normal diet and make up important parts of the body, such as bones and muscles.
A less common type of stone is caused by infection in the urinary tract. This type of stone is called a struvite or infection stone. A bit less common is the uric acid stone. Cystine stones are rare.Kidney stones in kidney, ureter, and bladderUrolithiasis is the medical term used to describe stones occurring in the urinary tract. Other frequently used terms are urinary tract stone disease and nephrolithiasis. Doctors also use terms that describe the location ofthe stone in the urinary tract. For example, a ureteral stone (or ureterolithiasis) is a kidneystone found in the ureter. To keep things simple, however, the term "kidney stones" is used throughout this fact sheet.
Gallstones and kidney stones are not related. They form in different areas of the body. If you have a gallstone, you are not necessarily more likely to develop kidney stones.