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Urology Austin physicians use patient medical history, along with testing, to diagnose kidney stones.

diagnosing a kidney stone

Diagnosing a kidney stone is aided by obtaining a thorough medical history of the patient, a physical exam, reviewing symptoms, and eliminating other urologic conditions. Sometimes, pain will be so excruciating, that patients will go directly to an emergency center for imaging and diagnosis.

When patients visit a urologist’s office, they will begin their diagnostic process with a physical exam, a urinalysis, and a review of their current and family medical history. It will help the provider in diagnosing a kidney stone if they know that the patient, or a member of their family, has a history of kidney stones. It is also important to know of existing and past conditions or diseases, gastrointestinal problems, and dietary habits.

By performing a urinalysis, the provider will be able to analyze whether the patient has an infection, or if there are substances in the urine (such as oxalate, cysteine, uric acid or calcium) which are known to cause kidney stones. The provider may also order blood work to check the health of the kidneys, and to determine if there is too much uric acid or calcium present in the blood.

Diagnosing a kidney stone

If the urologist suspects that a kidney stone is present, he or she may order one or more imaging tests.

Abdominal x-ray

This simple, non-invasive test can help the urologist see the size and location of the kidney stone, as well as the kidneys, bladder and the ureters.


This non-invasive test provides an accurate picture of the kidney stone, while exposing the patient to less radiation than a CT scan.

CT scan

The CT scan that is recommended for the detection of a kidney stone is called a non-contrast spiral computed tomography. This CT scan moves in a circle.

MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)

MRI’s are another good way for physicians to detect the location and size of a kidney stone, as well as the condition of the kidneys, bladder and ureters.

Kidney stone analysis

The physician may decide that it’s beneficial to analyze the kidney stone after it has passed or been removed. When allowed to pass, the kidney stone is collected during urination by using a strainer designed to catch the stone. Once captured, it will be sent to a lab for analysis. With this analysis, the urologist can develop a plan that will help prevent future kidney stones.

If you suspect you have kidney stones, contact us to make an appointment. If you are experiencing intense or excruciating pain, proceed to an emergency center.