Bladder stones also referred to as vesical calculus; result from the accumulation of minerals in the bladder. The buildup mineral stones usually pass through the urine without causing any serious issues when they are considerably small; however, if the stones get bigger, they stick to the ureter or bladder and may lead to disturbing symptoms and deleterious complications. It is noteworthy that impacted mineral stones may cause inflammation and may further grow in size to cause total urinary blockade and other related ailments.
Symptoms Of Bladder Stones
The symptoms may not appear during the early phase of buildup but as the stones begins to irritate the bladder lining, the patient may experience following symptoms:
- Dark or cloudy urine
- Presence of blood in the urine
- Painful urination
- Pain in the lower part of the stomach
- Penile discomfort in males
- Urination with a stop-start flow
Causes Of Bladder Stones
The major cause behind the formation of bladder stones is partial emptying of the bladder. This may be due to a medical condition that prevents the bladder from emptying completely while urinating. Such conditions include:
- Neurogenic bladder
- Prostate enlargement
- Medical devices like catheters
- Kidney stones
- Bladder inflammation
- Bladder diverticula; a condition that is characterized by the formulation of pouches in the bladder that hold the urine and obstructs its flow.
- Cystocele; a condition in women that is characterized by the weakening of the bladder lining.
Risk Factors That May Aggravate Your Risk Of Developing Bladder Stones
Following are the factors that may elevate your chances of developing bladder stones:
- Age and sex: Men are at greater risk than women especially as they grow old.
- Paralysis: Loss of pelvic muscle control and spinal injuries may also put people at higher risk of developing bladder stones.
- Obstruction of bladder outlet: Conditions that obstruct the urine flow may also contribute to bladder stones formation, such as prostate enlargement or chronic urinary tract infections.
- Bladder augmentation surgery: The surgery performed in women for treating urine incontinence may at times aggravate the risk of the formation of bladder stones in women.
Complications Of Bladder Stones
Two major complications associated with bladder stones include:
- Chronic bladder dysfunction
- Urinary tract infections
Therefore, it is important to seek treatment at the right time in order to prevent further complications.
Tests And Diagnosis
The diagnosis may include following tests and examination:
- Physical examination
- Urinalysis: A test to detect crystallized minerals, bacteria or blood in the urine sample.
- Spiral computerized tomography (CT scan): An imaging technique that is performed to analyze the internal organs
- Intravenous pyelogram
Small bladder stones can be removed by increasing the oral water intake as they can naturally flush via urination. However, if bigger stones are detected, the treatment approach mainly focuses on either removing them via surgery or breaking them by a number of techniques.
- Breaking the stones: it involves a procedure known as cystolitholapaxy in which the stones are first broken in smaller fragments by means of laser and ultrasound so they are washed away with urine.
- Surgically removing the stones: Surgical procedures are used to remove the stones when cystolitholapaxy fails.
The best way to prevent the formation of bladder stones is to empty the bladder completely while urinating. Various techniques may be used to achieve this such as double voiding which helps in voiding the bladder entirely. Consuming enough water is also a key preventive measure.
- Darrad, M., Collins, M., & Inglis, J. (2015). Combined endoscopic approach for patients with multiple bladder stones. The Annals of The Royal College of Surgeons of England, 97(3), 241-242.
- Cho, C. L., Leung, C. L., Chan, W. K., Chu, R. W., & Law, I. C. (2016). Novel technique in the management of large prostate and bladder stones with bipolar transurethral enucleation of the prostate and open cystolithotomy. Surgical Practice, 20(4), 166-170.