Ureter Stone Treatment
Not sure what a ureter stone is? You’ve probably heard of kidney stones, or you may know someone who’s had a kidney stone. You may even have experienced one yourself.
A ureter stone, also known as a ureteral stone, is essentially a kidney stone. It’s a kidney stone that has moved from the kidney into another part of the urinary tract.
The ureter is the tube that connects the kidney to the bladder. It’s about the same width as a small vein. It’s the most common location for a kidney stone to become lodged and to cause pain.
Depending on the size and location, it can hurt a lot, and it may require medical intervention if it doesn’t pass, causes intractable pain or vomiting, or if it’s associated with fever or infection.
Kidney stones are clusters of crystals that typically form in the kidneys. But these masses can develop and move anywhere along your urinary tract, which includes the ureters, urethra, and bladder.
A ureter stone is a kidney stone inside one of the ureters, which are the tubes that connect the kidneys to the bladder. The stone will have formed in the kidney and passed into the ureter with the urine from one of the kidneys.
Sometimes, these stones are very small. When that’s the case, the stones may pass through your ureter and into your bladder, and eventually pass out of your body when you urinate. Sometimes, however, a stone can be too large to pass and can get lodged in the ureter. It may block the flow of urine and can be extremely painful.
Signs & Symptoms
The most common symptom of a kidney or ureter stone is pain
You might feel pain in your lower abdomen or your flank, which is the area of your back just under your ribs. The pain can be mild and dull, or it can be excruciating. The pain may also come and go and radiate to other areas.
Other possible symptoms include:
- pain or a burning sensation when you pee
- blood in your urine
- frequent urge to urinate
- nausea and vomiting
What causes Ureter stones?
Ureter stones are made up of crystals in your urine that clump together. They usually form in the kidneys before passing into the ureter.
Not all ureter stones are made up of the same crystals. These stones can form from different types of crystals such as:
- Calcium. Stones made up of calcium oxalate crystals are the most common. Being dehydrated and eating a diet that includes a lot of high-oxalate foods may increase your risk of developing stones.
- Uric acid. This type of stone develops when urine is too acidic. It’s more common in men and in people who have gout.
- Struvite. These types of stones are often associated with chronic kidney infections and are found mostly in women who have frequent urinary tract infections (UTIs).
- Cystine. The least common type of stone, cystine stones occur in people who have the genetic disorder cystinuria. They are caused when cystine, a type of amino acid, leaks into urine from the kidneys.
Who is at risk?
- Family history. If one of your parents or a sibling has had kidney or ureter stones, you may be more likely to develop them, too.
- Dehydration. If you don’t drink enough water, you tend to produce a smaller amount of very concentrated urine. You need to produce a larger amount of urine so salts will stay dissolved, rather than hardening into crystals.
- Diet. Eating a diet high in sodium (salt), animal protein, and high-oxalate food may raise your risk of developing stones. Foods high in oxalate include spinach, tea, chocolate, and nuts. Consuming too much vitamin C may also increase your risk.
- Certain medications. A number of different kinds of medications, including some decongestants, diuretics, steroids, and anticonvulsants, can increase your chance of developing a stone.
- Certain medical conditions. You may be more likely to develop stones if you have:
- a blockage of the urinary tract
- inflammatory bowel disease
- recurrent UTIs
Frequently Asked Questions
How long can a stone stay in ureter?
Around 80% of kidney stones that are smaller than 4 millimeters (mm) will pass on their own in about 31 days. Approximately 60% of kidney stones that are 4–6 mm will pass on their own in about 45 days. Around 20% of kidney stones that are larger than 6 mm will pass on their own in about 12 months.
Can stone in ureter be dissolved?
Your urologist will thread a thin tube with a scope into your urethra and up into your ureter. Once your doctor can see the stone, the stone can be removed directly or broken up with a laser into smaller pieces that can pass on their own.
What size stone can pass through ureter?
The smaller the kidney stone, the more likely it will pass on its own. If it is smaller than 5 mm (1/5 inch), there is a 90% chance it will pass without further intervention. If the stone is between 5 mm and 10 mm, the odds are 50%. If a stone is too large to pass on its own, several treatment options are available.
How do you remove stone from ureter?
To remove a smaller stone in your ureter or kidney, your doctor may pass a thin lighted tube (ureteroscope) equipped with a camera through your urethra and bladder to your ureter. Once the stone is located, special tools can snare the stone or break it into pieces that will pass in your urine.
Is an 18mm kidney stone large?
Large kidney stones are stones that measure approximately 5 mm or larger. Based on their size, they may have trouble moving through the urinary tract out of the body.
Can stone in ureter damage kidney?
Ureterocele. If the ureter is too narrow and doesn’t allow urine to flow normally, a tiny bulge in the ureter (ureterocele) may develop, usually in the section of the ureter closest to the bladder. This can block urine flow and cause urine to back up into the kidney, possibly leading to kidney damage.