Urinary tract stones: types, nursing care and treatment options

Martin J Steggall, Maria Omara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Stones (calculi) in the urinary tract (urolithiasis) or kidney (nephrolithiasis) occur in 5% of the population. The lifetime risk of passing a stone is 8-10%. Men are twice as likely to develop stones, with the first episode occurring before 30 years of age. Stones are caused by the aggregation of crystalline mineral deposits in the urine. Calcium stones are the most common type of stone. Investigations for stone disease include plain X-ray, X-ray with contrast media, ultrasound imaging, and computed tomographic (CT) scanning. Treatment of stones is dependent on the size and location, e.g. lithotripsy is used to break down stones in the ureter or kidney, whereas litholapaxy is used for stones in the bladder that are too large to be passed urethrally. Alpha-blocker medication (e.g. tamsulosin) can facilitate spontaneous passing of a stone. Nurses have a crucial role in assessment, management and provision of discharge advice for patients. Strategies for preventing stones include increasing the urine output (by giving 2-3 litres of fluid per day) and dietary modification, particularly reduction in animal protein and salt content.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-3
Number of pages4
JournalBritish Journal of Nursing
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jun 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Humans
  • Nursing Assessment
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Urinary Calculi


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