What is a bladder stone?
Most people are familiar with kidney stones, but stones can form in all organs along the urinary tract: the kidneys, ureters, urethra, and the bladder. Bladder stones develop when mineral deposits in urine begin to crystallize and form a hard mass. These stones can affect men, women, and children – although men are most likely to develop stones as they age.
What causes bladder stones?
Under normal circumstances, urine is regularly expelled from the bladder during urination. However, some conditions may cause the bladder from completely emptying. Urine that remains in the bladder can begin the process of crystallization and the development of bladder stones. Stones inside the bladder can also be caused by the following:
- Bladder infection.
- Foreign materials in the bladder such as kidney stones. While kidney stones are formed from different materials, a kidney stone that becomes lodged in the bladder can continue to grow.
- Enlarged prostate – Men diagnosed with an enlarged prostate have prostate tissue that blocks the flow of urine through the urethra. Incomplete emptying can result in residual urine.
- Neurogenic bladder – Nerve damage can prevent the bladder from emptying properly. This type of damage may be caused by a spinal cord injury, stroke, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, or Multiple Sclerosis.
- Bladder inflammation – Inflammation or swelling may be caused by recurrent urinary tract infections or radiation.
- Long-term catheter use.
- Bladder diverticulum.
- Augmentation Cystoplasty (Bladder Augmentation surgery).
- Cystocele – This condition occurs when the bladder wall prolapses (falls) into the vagina. This prolapse can block the normal flow of urine.
Bladder stone symptoms
Oftentimes, stones found within the bladder are small enough to pass during urination. Occasionally, stones can become so large that they initiate bothersome symptoms. It’s important to visit a urologist to have these symptoms assessed since many present with other urological conditions.
Symptoms may include:
- Urinary frequency.
- Burning with urination.
- Difficulty emptying urine.
- Urine flow that starts and stops.
- Cloudy urine.
- Hematuria – blood in the urine.
- Lower pelvic pain / bladder pain.
- Nocturia – frequent urination at night.
How are bladder stones treated?
When stones remain small, they may be flushed with large amounts of fluid intake. Large stones may require surgical intervention. Two commons procedures include cystolitholapaxy which involves breaking up the stones so that they pass during urination, and cystotomy in which the bladder is surgically opened to remove the stones.
If you are experiencing symptoms that may be related to stones, contact Urology Austin to schedule an appointment.