Learning about kidney stones: Knowing the risk factors


Presently practicing at Health Orlando Urology, board-certified urologist Cletus Georges, MD, has also worked as a contract urologist at William Jennings Bryan at Dorn VA Medical Center in Columbia, SC, and Florida Urology Associates Florida Hospital Medical Group.  Dr. Georges also held several administrative and teaching posts, including department chairman and mentor.

Dr. Cletus Georges has also started a series of blogs where he discusses urology’s important points for everyone to know.  For this blog, he looks at kidney stones, and as continued public service to people everywhere, shares some key risk factors so that people may avoid developing the disease.

Kidney stone disease, also known as nephrolithiasis or urolithiasis,  is caused by kidney stone development in the urinary tract.  Smaller stones may pass through the tract without them being a problem.  However, if the stone grows over 5 millimeters or 0.2 inches, it may block the ureter and cause severe discomfort and pain in either the lower back or abdomen.   Some patients also report blood in the urine, vomiting, or pain or discomfort during urination.

Risk factors

The most common risk factors for kidney stones are genetics and the environment.  Other risk factors include high urine calcium levels, obesity, overconsumption of certain food types, particular medications, calcium supplements, hyperparathyroidism, gout, and simply not drinking enough water, which leads to a high concentration of minerals, forming the stones.


According to Dr. Cletus Georges, diagnosing kidney stone disease is based on the symptoms, as well as urine test, blood test, and medical imaging results. 


Stones found in the kidney are classified under nephrolithiasis.  Those found in the ureter are filed under ureterolithiasis.  For stones in the bladder, urologists classify them under cystolithiasis.  Stones can also be classified by the materials they are comprised of, such as calcium oxalate, uric acid, cysteine, and struvite.

Prevention and treatment

Dr. Cletus Georges notes that the main way of preventing kidney stones from forming is through drinking enough fluids to produce more than two liters of urine a day.  He also mentions the use of thiazide diuretic, citrate, and allopurinol, if drinking fluids does not work or is not effective enough.

At the onset of pain, patients are typically instructed to take pain relievers and tamsulosin, which helps them pass larger stones.  As for the procedures to get rid of kidney stones, urologists have several options, such as extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy, ureteroscopy, and percutaneous nephrolithotomy.