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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

Bladder stones are most often 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 form crystals. 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 urine control may also occur with bladder stones.

Exams and Tests

The health care provider will perform a physical exam. This will also include a rectal exam. The exam may reveal an enlarged prostate or other problems.

The following tests may be done:

Treatment

You may be able to help small stones pass on their own by drinking 6 - 8 glasses of water or more per day to increase urination.

Your health care provider may remove stones that do not pass using a cystoscope (a small telescope that passes through the urethra into the bladder).

Some stones may need to be removed using open surgery.

Drugs 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.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Most bladder stones pass on their own or can be removed without permanent damage to the bladder. They may come back if the cause is not corrected.

Left untreated, stones may cause repeated urinary tract infections or permanent damage to the bladder or kidneys.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

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: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 89.

Sharma R, Dill CE, Gelman DY. Urinary bladder calculi. J Emerg Med. 2011;41(2):185-86. PMID: 19345546 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19345546.

Review Date:6/2/2014
Reviewed By:Scott Miller, MD, Urologist in private practice in Atlanta, GA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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