Don’t be weighed down by unnecessary pain of kidney stones

03 September 2019

Thousands of people every year are suffering unnecessarily from symptoms that, once diagnosed, can be easily treated, according to Consultant Urologist, Mr Vivek Wadhwa.

Kidney stones will occur in about 5% of people in the UK but in many cases patients will receive delayed diagnosis – causing sufferers to have to endure symptoms for much longer than necessary.

Now, as part of Urology Awareness Month – which runs throughout September – Mr Wadhwa, who practices at Spire Parkway Hospital, Solihull near Birmingham, is telling people what signs they should be looking out for, when it comes to detecting kidney stones.

He explains: “Patients often suffer with long term symptoms, varying from low level back pain, recurring urinary infections and blood in the urine. Unfortunately many are given antibiotics or pain killers, when what they really need is investigation for kidney stones.

“Once these smaller stones are detected and identified they can, in many cases, be dealt with. However, until the stones are spotted and dealt with, the patient’s painful symptoms will continue.”

Mr Wadhwa explains that about 10% of the population will suffer from kidney stones at some point in their lives with all age groups affected but especially people aged between 20 and 50 years. They are also more common in men. They occur as the kidneys filter unwanted materials from the blood. These bits of waste can form very small crystals which can gradually attach to other crystals and develop into stones over the years. 

They can range in size from very small grains to much larger stones. Although small stones typically cause acute pain, the larger stones could be silent and if not diagnosed may gradually cause permanent damage to the kidneys.

Mr Wadhwa recommends “spotting and addressing symptoms early" as this will help you get "speedier and better" treatment, and give you the best chance of living life to the full again.

What to look out for:

  • Pain in the back moving into the groin
  • Feverish symptoms
  • Blood in your urine
  • Recurrent urinary tract infections

If the stones are only small then patients may be given painkillers and advised to drink lots of water and they should pass through the body naturally.

However, if surgical intervention is necessary then there are a number of modern procedures that can be carried out, including the use of lasers in selective cases, for complete clearance of the stone. This type of surgery is minimally invasive, being done though the urethrae (pee tube) without need for open surgery.

“In the case of larger stones, then keyhole surgery (percutaneous nephrolithotomy) may be required,” says Mr Wadwha. “The main thing is, whatever their size, to get them properly investigated and treated as soon as possible so you can get back to a pain-free lifestyle.”

Q: How quickly could I have a consultation and how much would it cost? 

A: It depends on the availability of the consultant you wanted to see, but we pride ourselves on getting you fast access to diagnosis and you can often get a consultation within 24/48 hours. Initial consultation fees vary by consultant, but around £175 is a reasonable guide.

Q: If I need surgery, how quickly could I have it?

A: We have no waiting lists at Spire Parkway, but again, it depends on the availability of the consultant you wanted, but as a guide, and subject to your pre-operation assessment, between one and two weeks. 

Q: I don’t have health insurance, can I self-pay? 

A: Yes, you can. Our self-pay team can talk you through this and explain the finance options that are available, should you wish to explore them. Call 0121 704 5530 or send us an enquiry.

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