Conditions We Treat: Kidney and Bladder Stones

Kidney and bladder stones are hard objects in the urinary tract made up of millions of tiny crystals. Kidney stones, which are much more common than bladder stones, can form when the body’s system for filtering urine becomes too concentrated. Bladder stones can form as a result of a urinary tract infection, a problem with the prostate, or in association with certain types of reconstructive surgery on the urinary tract.

Kidney Stones | Q&A with Brian Matlaga, M.D.

Brian Matlaga, M.D., answer questions about the symptoms, risk factors, treatment and recurrence of stone disease.

Kidney and Bladder Stones: Why Choose Johns Hopkins

  • We offer a unique treatment approach that combines surgical, medical and dietary therapies to help patients enjoy faster recovery and fewer recurrences.
  • As part of the Gerald D. and Helen M. Stephens Center for Stone Disease, we have access to the latest research into the treatment of stone disease.
  • Our highly skilled, multidisciplinary care team includes experts in nephrology (the study of the kidneys), urology, surgery and urological nursing.

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Treatment for Kidney and Bladder Stones

It may be possible to pass small stones without surgical intervention. This will depend on several factors, including pain, whether the flow of urine is blocked and your overall kidney health.

When a stone is too big to pass or puts you at risk for adverse health effects, treatment is necessary. Advancements in surgical technology mean that stones are usually treated with minimally invasive procedures that result in a shorter hospital stay and faster recovery time.

At your consultation, you and your surgeon will discuss the different approaches for kidney or bladder stone removal, which, depending on your specific diagnosis, may include the following:

  • Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL). An external device that resembles an X-ray machine delivers concentrated shock waves to break stones into smaller pieces that can be passed more easily.
  • Ureteroscopy. A small telescope called a ureteroscope is inserted through the urethra and bladder to reach the kidney stone in the ureter, where it is either caught in a basket or fragmented with a laser.
  • Percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PCNL). The surgeon makes one small incision across the middle back and uses a thin tube to access, break up and remove the stone.

Kidney and Bladder Stone Experts

Our experienced urologists offer a comprehensive approach to kidney and bladder stone treatment that provides both immediate and long-lasting symptom relief.


Our Center for Stone Disease

At the Gerald D. and Helen M. Stephens Center for Stone Disease, urologists work closely with a team of nephrologists to address all aspects of kidney stone care. By combining surgical, medical and dietary therapies, patients enjoy faster recoveries and fewer kidney stones down the road.