Medical Definition of Nephrolithiasis

Our Kidney Stones Main Article provides a comprehensive look at the who, what, when and how of Kidney Stones

Nephrolithiasis: The process of forming a kidney stone, a stone in the kidney (or lower down in the urinary tract). Kidney stones are a common cause of blood in the urine and pain in the abdomen, flank, or groin. Kidney stones occur in 1 in 10 people at some time in their life.

The development of the stones is typically related to increased excretion of stone-forming components such as calcium, oxalate, urate or cystine.

The pain with kidney stones is usually of sudden onset, very severe and colicky (intermittent), not improved by changes in position, radiating from the back, down the flank, and into the groin. Nausea and vomiting are common.

Treatment includes relief of pain, hydration and, if there is concurrent urinary infection, antibiotics.

The majority of stones pass spontaneously within 48 hours. If a symptomatic stone does not pass, a procedure by a urologist may be needed.

"Nephrolithiasis" is derived from the Greek nephros- (kidney) lithos (stone) = kidney stone. The stones themselves are also called renal caluli. The word "calculus" (plural: calculi) is the Latin word for pebble.

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Last Editorial Review: 5/13/2016

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