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Kidney stones (also called renal lithiasis) and ureteral stones (kidney stones that have moved to the ureters) are both a type of stone disease, otherwise known as urolithiasis. Stone disease is the most common type of urological disorder and is thought to be the most painful. Every year in the United States, there are more than a million cases diagnosed, and experts estimate that about 10 percent of Americans will suffer from stone disease during their lifetime.
Kidney and ureteral stones are formed from dissolved substances in urine. They concentrate in the urine to form solid crystals that can lead to stones when materials in the urine build up around them. This is buildup is known as cystolithiasis. Most kidney stones are made up of calcium oxalate or calcium phosphate, but they can also contain cysteine, uric acid or struvite.
Some stones, called a struvite, are caused by a urinary tract infection. This type of stone is not very common. Crystine stones are even less common.
Most kidney stones can be passed without medical intervention by drinking lots of water and taking medication to help you manage the pain. However, some people will require treatment to remove their stones. If you are unable to pass kidney stones on your own, you may need to have surgery or a procedure to dissolve the stones.
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