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Bladder stones

Definition

Bladder stones are hard buildups of minerals that form in the urinary bladder.

Alternative Names

Stones - bladder; Urinary tract stones; Bladder calculi

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Bladder stones are usually caused by another urinary system problem, such as:

Almost all bladder stones occur in men. Bladder stones are much less common than kidney stones.

Bladder stones may occur when urine in the bladder is concentrated and materials crystallize. Bladder stones may also result from foreign objects in the bladder.

Symptoms

Symptoms occur when the stone irritates the lining of the bladder or blocks the flow of urine from the bladder.

Symptoms can include:

 Loss of control over urine may also occur with bladder stones.

Signs and tests

The health care provider will perform a physical exam, including a rectal examination. The exam may reveal an enlarged prostate or other problems.

The following tests may be done:

Treatment

Drinking 6 - 8 glasses of water or more per day to increase urination may help the stones pass if they are small.

Your health care provider may remove stones that do not pass on their own using a cystoscope (a small tube that passes through the urethra to the bladder).

Some stones may need to be removed using open surgery.

Medications are rarely used to dissolve the stones.

Causes of bladder stones should be treated. Most commonly bladder stones are seen with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH--enlarged prostate) or bladder outlet obstruction.

For patients with BPH and bladder stones, transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) can be performed with stone removal.

Expectations (prognosis)

Most bladder stones are expelled or can be removed without permanent damage to the bladder. They may come back if the cause is not corrected.

If the stones are left untreated, they may cause repeated urinary tract infections or permanent damage to the bladder or kidneys.

Calling your health care provider

Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of bladder stones.

Prevention

Prompt treatment of urinary tract infections or other urinary tract conditions may help prevent bladder stones.

References

Benway BM, Bhayani SM. Lower urinary tract calculi. In: Wein AJ, ed. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 89.

Sharma R, Dill CE, Gelman DY. Urinary bladder calculi. J Emerg Med. 2011;41(2):185-186.


Review Date: 6/18/2012
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington; and Scott Miller, MD, Urologist in private practice in Atlanta, Georgia. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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