How to Diagnose Recurrent Kidney Stones

Recurrent Kidney Stones – How to Test

kidney stonesA build up of mineral elements in urine leads to kidney stone development.  Adult men are more prone to developing this condition, though this kidney disease is not uncommon among women or young children.  There is a greater risk for an individual who has passed kidney stones, to develop another, if proper diagnosis and management is failed to be done.

There are several factors contributing to kidney stone formation, genetics, metabolic disorders, and lifestyle habits.  It is important that the physician be furnished with details like past medical history, family history, and allergies that the patient has.  If the patient has a history of repeated urinary tract infections, overactive parathyroid gland, has had an intestinal bypass, or is on certain medications and supplements – antacids, calcium, vitamin D or C supplements, this will increase their risk for developing recurrent kidney stones.  Also, dietary habits like following a diet high in animal proteins, excess intake of processed foods, carbonated drinks and not drinking enough of water will contribute towards recurrent kidney stone formation.

With these details collected and on thorough physical examination if the patient displays sensitivity to palpation of the flank, lower abdomen or back areas, the physician may suspect the patient to have kidney stones.


Collection of urine samples and blood samples will be ordered first.  Blood tests will help determine the levels of urea, nitrogen, calcium, phosphate and uric acid in blood.  What mineral elements are in excess usually are the ones forming the stones.

Urine is examined for the type of crystals, urine alkalinity and acidity levels, as well as the presence of microorganisms, red/white blood cells.  A 24-hour urine collection is done to note down the volume of urine produced by the individual in a 24-hour period.  There should be no change in eating or drinking patterns made while the samples are collected for analysis.  If the urine production is low, and the pH levels read acidic urine, then this favors uric acid stones and the treatment plan will be to increase the person’s daily water intake to prevent any more kidney stone occurrence.  If the urine production is normal, high in pH readings, and presence of microorganisms detected, then this atmosphere favors ‘infection’ (struvite) stones.  Eradicating the bacteria will be the treatment plan as well as different methods suggested to avoid experiencing any more urinary tract infections.  This will prevent the recurrence of struvite stones.

Samples are usually collected again approximately six weeks after the first kidney stone attack, or when it is confirmed that the stones have successfully passed, to again check for levels of these substances.  This will help find out if there is a possibility for the stones to return.

If the urinary calcium levels are found to be in excess, then a parathyroid screening will be ordered for.  If parathyroid abnormalities are detected, then the aim will be to normalize the glandular functions to prevent further kidney stone episodes.

Any lifestyle and eating habits to be altered will be recommended, along with a change in medications (if they are considered as stone contributors), in order to prevent stone formation from happening time after time.