Diagnosing Kidney Stones ?
The bean-shaped organ called kidney exists in pairs and are situated on either side of the abdominal cavity, more close to the lower back. Its main function is to flush out waste and excess water from the body in the form of urine. The first symptom that indicates something is wrong with the kidneys is unbearable pain surrounding the hip region. When a professional physician is consulted, it is of utmost importance to initially determine if the pain is indeed due to calculus formation within the kidneys or whether it is a result of some other medical condition.
The Kidney Stones tests normally conducted to confirm the presence of kidney stones are as follows:
1. – KUB. This is kidney, ureter, and bladder x-ray or abdominal x-ray and can easily detect stones that are radio-opaque. This is generally a method used for preliminary examination of the kidneys and though the name suggests, it sometimes cannot give a clear picture of the entire urinary tract system. This should be followed by other testing methods for accurate diagnosis of kidney stones.
2. – IVP. Intravenous pyelogram, similar to that of an x-ray, is traditionally used to evaluate patients with back or hip pain suggesting kidney stones. It is also referred to as intravenous urogram where a dye is introduced into the system, via the vein, that becomes visible on x-ray. A series of x-rays are taken before and after the introduction of contrast material. This gives the physician a view of the patient’s urinary tract system, further assists in detecting the presence and location of the stones, and helps determine whether the stones are radiolucent or radio-opaque. However, certain individuals may react adversely to the contrast material injected, and there is also the risk of not able to detect the presence of small stones.
3. – Retrograde pyelogram. In cases where an IVP fails to detect any stones within the kidney, a retrograde pyelogram may be necessary. Even in situations where the patient is allergic to contrast material or is suffering from other chronic kidney related diseases, this method is followed. Here, a catheter is introduced into the system through which the dye is injected and x-rays are taken. The normal passage of dye gets hindered either by stones or due to other urinary tract problems. This test though may be somewhat similar to that of IVP procedure, require to be carried out under anesthesia for insertion of the catheter.
4. – CT Scan. Non-contrast spiral computed tomography is chosen to identify the presence of kidney stones at the present time as it is found to have more advantages over x-rays. The time taken for examination lasts for a short period and the body is not subjected to the harmful risks of contrast materials. This is considered to be more accurate and an effective examination tool to detect the presence of kidney stones as it is capable of revealing even radiolucent stones. Other abnormalities like renal enlargement due to accumulation of urine may also be detected through this method of testing.
5. – Ultrasound. This diagnostic examination is useful in times of emergency, where the pain is excruciating in nature requiring urgent assistance for relief. A probe is utilized to scan the kidney with the patient lying on his left side to scan the right area and vice versa. Longitudinal and traverse images are noted down and the first sign of any abnormality is determined by the presence of hydronephrosis. This is a more rapid manner of testing for kidney stones without requiring any dye injection or radiation.
Proper investigations and analysis of the cause of kidney stone formation is warranted to restore normal functions of the kidney completely. Early diagnosis is also important, thus seek immediate help when in doubt.