Bladder stones

Alternative Names :Stones – bladder; Urinary tract stones; Bladder calculi

Definition:
Bladder stones are usually small masses of minerals that form in your bladder. Bladder stones develop when urine in your bladder becomes concentrated, causing minerals in your urine to crystallize. Concentrated, stagnant urine is often the result of not being able to completely empty your bladder. This may be due to an enlarged prostate, nerve damage or recurring urinary tract infections.

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Bladder stones are hard buildups of minerals that form in the urinary bladder. In most cases, these stones are made up of calcium. Stones are usually between 0.2cm and 2cm, but may be smaller or much larger.

Symptoms:

Symptoms occur when the stone irritates the lining of the bladder or obstructs the flow of urine from the bladder. Symptoms can include:

•Abdominal pain, pressure
•Abnormally colored or dark-colored urine
•Blood in the urine
•Difficulty urinating
•Frequent urge to urinate
•Inability to urinate except in certain positions
•Interruption of the urine stream
•Pain, discomfort in the penis
•Urinary tract infection
?Dysuria (painful urination)
?Fever
?Urinary urgency
Incontinence may also be associated with bladder stones.


Causes:

Bladder stones generally begin when your bladder doesn’t empty completely. The urine that’s left in your bladder can form crystals that eventually become bladder stones. In most cases, an underlying condition affects your bladder’s ability to empty completely.


The most common conditions that cause bladder stones include:

*Prostate gland enlargement. An enlarged prostate, or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), can be a cause of bladder stones in men. As the prostate enlarges, it can compress the urethra and interrupt urine flow, causing urine to remain in your bladder.

*Damaged nerves (neurogenic bladder). Normally, nerves carry messages from your brain to your bladder muscles, directing your bladder muscles to tighten or release. If these nerves are damaged — from a stroke, spinal cord injury or other health problem — your bladder may not empty completely.

*Weakened bladder wall. Bladder diverticula are weakened areas in the bladder wall that bulge outward in pouches, and allow urine to collect.
Other conditions that can cause bladder stones include:

*Inflammation.
Bladder stones can develop if your bladder becomes inflamed. Urinary tract infections and radiation therapy to your pelvic area can both cause bladder inflammation.

*Medical devices.
Occasionally, catheters — slender tubes inserted through the urethra to help urine drain from your bladder — can cause bladder stones. So can objects that accidentally migrate to your bladder, such as a contraceptive device or stent. Mineral crystals, which later become stones, tend to form on the surface of these devices.

*Kidney stones. Stones that form in your kidneys are not the same as bladder stones. They develop in different ways and often for different reasons. But small kidney stones occasionally travel down the ureters into your bladder and if not expelled, can grow into bladder stones.

Diagnosis:
The health care provider will perform a physical exam.  He will likely feel your lower abdomen to see if your bladder is distended and, in some cases, perform a rectal exam to determine whether your prostate is enlarged. You may also discuss any urinary signs or symptoms that you’ve been having.

Tests used to make a diagnosis of bladder stones may include:

*Analysis of your urine (urinalysis). A sample of your urine may be collected and examined for microscopic amounts of blood, bacteria and crystallized minerals. A urinalysis is also helpful for determining whether you have a urinary tract infection, which can cause or be the result of bladder stones.

*Spiral computerized tomography (CT) scan.
A conventional CT scan combines multiple X-rays with computer technology to create cross-sectional images of your body rather than the overlapping images produced by regular X-rays. A spiral CT speeds up this process, scanning more quickly and with greater definition of internal structures. Spiral CTs can detect even very small stones and are considered one of the most sensitive tests for identifying all types of bladder stones.

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*Ultrasound. An ultrasound, which bounces sound waves off organs and structures in your body to create pictures, can help your doctor detect bladder stones.

*X-ray. An X-ray of your kidneys, ureters and bladder helps your doctor determine whether stones are present in your urinary system. This is an inexpensive and easy test to obtain, but some types of stones aren’t visible on conventional X-rays.

*Special imaging of your urinary tract (intravenous pyelogram)
. An intravenous pyelogram is a test that uses a contrast material to highlight organs in your urinary tract. The material is injected into a vein in your arm and flows into your kidneys, ureters and bladder, outlining each of these organs. X-ray pictures are taken at specific time points during the procedure to check for stones. More recently, helical CT scans are generally done instead of an intravenous pyelogram.

Treatment:
Sometimes cystoscopy is performed to examine the inside of the bladder. During this process a fibre-optic camera, called a cystoscope, is inserted into the bladder via the urethra. Any bladder stones can usually be broken up during this procedure, and then washed out.

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Stones can also be broken up into pieces small enough to allow them to pass out in the urine using a special type of ultrasound called lithotripsy. If the stones are too large to be removed by these methods, surgical removal becomes necessary.

Since bladder stones can often recur, it’s important to reduce the chances of this happening. This means drinking plenty of fluid every day, and ensuring that any underlying medical conditions, such as gout, are treated appropriately.

Alternative medicine:
For centuries, some people have tried to use herbs to treat and prevent stones that form in the kidneys and bladder. Traditional herbs for bladder stones include gravel root (also called kidney root, queen of the meadow and Joe Pye), stone root (also called citronella and colinsonia) and hydrangea (wild or mountain hydrangea).

These herbs are used alone or in various combinations and drunk as tea or taken in tincture form. Some herbal formulas add marshmallow (the plant, not the confection), which is said to coat the fragments so that they can be eliminated painlessly. No studies, however, have confirmed that herbs can break up bladder stones, which are extremely hard and usually require a laser, ultrasound or other procedure for removal.

For prevention, parsley leaf is reported to have a diuretic effect and may be helpful for preventing bladder stones.

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Always check with yourhealth care provider before taking any alternative medicine therapy to be sure it’s safe, and that it won’t adversely interact with other medications you’re taking.


Prognosis:

Most bladder stones are expelled or can be removed without permanent damage to the bladder. They may come back if the cause is not corrected.

If the stones are left untreated, they may cause repeated urinary tract infections or permanent damage to the bladder or kidneys.

Possible Complications:

•Acute bilateral obstructive uropathy
•Bladder cancer in severe, long-term cases
•Chronic bladder dysfunction (incontinence or urinary retention)
•Obstruction of the urethra
•Recurrence of stones
•Reflux nephropathy
•Urinary tract infection

Prevention:

Bladder stones usually result from an underlying condition that’s hard to prevent, but you can decrease your chance of developing bladder stones by following these tips:

*Ask about unusual urinary symptoms. Early diagnosis and treatment of an enlarged prostate or another urological condition may reduce your risk of developing bladder stones.

*Drink plenty of fluids. Drinking more fluids, especially water, may help prevent bladder stones because fluids dilute the concentration of minerals in your bladder. How much water you should drink depends on your age, size, health and level of activity. Ask your doctor what’s an appropriate amount of fluid for you.
Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.
Resources:

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001275.htm
http://www.bbc.co.uk/health/physical_health/conditions/bladder1.shtml
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/bladder-stones/DS00904
http://modernmedicalguide.com/bladder-stones/
http://health.stateuniversity.com/pages/447/Cystoscopy.html

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