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Renal Calculi: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

Renal Calculi: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

Renal Calculi, also known as a kidney stone or Ureteral Calculus, is one of the most painful medical conditions. One of the kidney functions is to eliminate waste and fluid from your blood in order to make urine. At times when your blood has excess waste and insufficient fluid, this waste turns into a solid form by sticking together in the shape of stones inside your kidneys.

Renal calculi or kidney stones are nothing but solid lumps formed of crystals. Though they are generally formed in the kidneys, they can also occur in any place along your urinary tract – kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. The causes of kidney stones would differ as per the type of stone.

renal calculi

Around 10-15 per cent of all kidney stones are made from struvite. Struvite stones are a kind of firm and hard mineral deposit that can develop in your kidneys.

The different types of kidney stones are calcium, uric acid, struvite, and cystine.

The signs and symptoms of renal calculi or ureteral calculus wouldn’t be visible or experienced until it starts moving in and around the kidney or it starts passing through the tube which connects the kidney and bladder – known as the ureter. If you have a very small kidney stone, you might not even experience any symptoms of renal calculi as it easily passes through your urinary tract. But if the stones are large in size, you might experience these symptoms of renal calculi:

  • Having pain on one side of the back or abdomen
  • Having foul-smell in your urine
  • Getting chills or fever
  • Increased frequency of urination
  • Passing blood in your urine (brown, red, or pink urine colour)
  • Burning sensation during urine
  • Pus in the urine
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Experiencing pain while passing urine

Causes of Renal Calculi

Though there can be several factors causing renal calculi, one of the most important causes of kidney stones is the lack of water in your body. People who do not drink sufficient 8-10 glasses of water per day usually have complaints of kidney stones. Insufficient water makes it difficult to dilute the uric acid – an element of urine. Lack of dilution makes the urine more acidic, leading to the formation of renal calculi.

Also, one of the causes of renal calculi could be the lack of substances that prevent crystals from forming a lump.

According to the research conducted by the University of Calcutta, the risk of developing kidney stones varies from about 1-5 per cent in Asia, 5-9 per cent in Europe, 10-15 per cent in the USA, and 20-25 per cent in the Middle East. This risk is mainly due to the lifestyle and dietary habits of these regions. Hence, dietary therapy and auxiliary modes of treatment can prove to be some of the best solutions for reducing the cases of recurrent renal calculi and thereby improving the quality of life.

Risk Factors

Any person is vulnerable to renal calculi but similar to other health disorders, some people are more prone to getting kidney stones compared to others. You might be at a higher risk of getting renal calculi in the below given circumstances.

  • Men are more likely to get kidney stones compared to women.
  • Being overweight or obesity
  • Family history of kidney stone issues
  • If you are facing certain medical conditions because of which there could be high levels of cystine, oxalate, uric acid, or calcium in your urine.
  • You are more likely to suffer from renal calculi if you have polycystic ovary syndrome or any other kidney condition.
  • If you regularly eat foods that are high in protein, sodium, or sugar content, you are at a higher risk of getting kidney stones.
  • Kidney stones are also a possibility in people who have swelling or irritation in their bowel or joints.
  • Medical conditions like urinary tract infections, Crohn’s disease, renal tubular acidosis, hyperthyroidism raises your risk of acquiring kidney stones.


If your GP is doubtful about you having renal calculi, you would be recommended to undertake certain diagnostic tests or examinations. Some of the tests included in the diagnosis of renal calculi are:

Urine Test

Doctors would suggest the 24-hour urine collection test. This helps in knowing if you are excreting too many stone-causing substances or extremely few kidney stone averting elements. Under this test, you are required to collect two different urine samples over two days.

Blood Test

Blood tests are conducted to help analyse kidney health and examine other health issues (if existing). It helps in letting you know the level of calcium or uric acid in the blood.

Lab Analysis

Under this analysis, you would be required to urinate through a strainer. This will help get hold of stones that you will be passing through. The stones passed are analysed to check its content and what they’re majorly made of, to help reveal the cause of the kidney stone and take respective precautions.

Imaging Test

From basic abdominal X-rays to CT scans, imaging tests help in viewing even the smallest to the biggest kidney stone. Some of the other imaging tests to detect renal calculi are an ultrasound, intravenous pyelogram, retrograde pyelogram, and MRI scan of kidneys and abdomen.


Depending on the type and causes of renal calculi, a specific treatment is recommended by the medical experts.

One of the treatments for renal calculi is shock wave lithotripsy. Under this treatment, shock waves are used which breaks the kidney stones into smaller pieces. Once they are broken into smaller parts, they easily pass through your urinary tract. This treatment is approximately 45-60 minutes long and is conducted after you are given general anesthesia.

When a kidney stone is stuck in the ureter or bladder, your GP would recommend a treatment known as ureteroscopy. In this treatment, a long tool (tube-shaped) is used to find and remove the kidney stone. If the stone is too large to be removed, then it is broken into smaller pieces so that it can get out of your body through urination.

In severe and rare cases, you might be required to undergo a percutaneous nephrolithotomy surgery to remove the kidney stone. A tube is inserted directly into the kidney in order to remove the stone. This surgery would require 2-3 days of stay in the hospital.

Lifestyle Changes

Kidney stones can be easily prevented or taken good care of post treatment by simple lifestyle changes and adopting disciplined habits.

  • Drinking lots of water is one of the most essential tips, especially for the ones with a history of renal calculi – they should be passing out around 2.5 litres of urine per day.
  • If your diet is high in protein, try to bring it down. Replace animal protein with vegetarian alternatives like legumes. Also, reduce salt intake.
  • If the stone formed in your kidney is the calcium oxalate type, medical experts suggest avoiding foods rich in oxalates like beetroot, spinach, sweet potatoes, nuts, chocolate, tea, and soy products.

Home Remedies

Some of the home remedies for renal calculi include:


Also known as Tulsi leaves are said to have compounds that help stabilise the uric acid levels in the blood, ensuring lower possibilities of kidney stone formation. Basil is also considered to have acetic acid – a chemical known to dissolve stones.

Wheatgrass Juice

Wheatgrass is rich in antioxidants which in turn clears the urinary tract of salts and minerals. It also helps in more urine production which allows stones to pass swiftly.

Pomegranate Juice

Pomegranate’s astringent and antioxidant properties are considered to reduce the possibilities of forming kidney stones and allows their easy passage.

Lemon Juice

The citrate compound in lemon helps in breaking the calcium deposits and slows down their growth.

Kidney stone diet recipes

Refer to cookbooks, nutritionists, or just YouTube for some healthy and tasty kidney stone diet recipes to make yourself a healthy dish.


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Kidney Stones/https://www.healthline.com/health/kidney-stones/Accessed on 30/12/2019 Nephrolithiasis/https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/437096-overview/Accessed on 30/12/2019 Kidney stones/https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/kidney-stones/symptoms-causes/syc-20355755/Accessed on 30/12/2019 Renal Calculi/https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK442014//Accessed on 30/12/2019 Medical Definition of Renal calculi/https://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=6712/Accessed on 30/12/2019 Kidney Stone Causes, Symptoms, Treatments, & Prevention/https://www.kidneyfund.org/kidney-disease/kidney-problems/kidney-stones//Accessed on 30/12/2019 How do you get kidney stones?/https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/154193.php/Accessed on 30/12/2019 Thirteen home remedies for kidney stones/https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319418.php#13-home-remedies-for-kidney-stones/Accessed on 30/12/2019
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Written by Nikita Bhalla Updated Apr 02, 2021
Fact Checked by Hello Doctor Medical Panel