Bladder stones are crystallized minerals that form when
concentrated urine, less water, and more waste product, is left in the bladder
About 95 percent of your urine is water. The other 5 percent contains
minerals, such as salt, and waste products, such as protein. Concentrated urine
can vary in color from dark amber to brown depending on the types of waste and
minerals it contains.
Concentrated urine is often the result of dehydration or lack of
ability to completely empty your bladder. This may be due to an enlarged
prostate, bladder problems, or urinary tract infections. If left untreated,
bladder stones can lead to infections and other complications.
What Are the Symptoms of Bladder Stones?
The symptoms of bladder stones are:
- frequent urination, especially during the night
- lower abdominal pain
- a burning sensation or pain in the urethra when
- urine that contains blood or appears cloudy
- inability to control urination
Who Is at Risk for Bladder Stones?
More than 95 percent of people who develop bladder stones are men
— especially older men with prostate problems. Men in their 80s have a much
higher risk than younger men. However, even men in their 30s living in industrialized
countries can develop stones, as these regions are more likely to have diets
high in fat and sugar.
Children who live in developing countries are also susceptible to
bladder stones as they often don't have access to enough water to stay hydrated
and their diets tend to be poor.
What Causes Bladder Stones?
The formation of bladder stones may be a secondary symptom of an
underlying urinary tract problem. Conditions that may contribute to bladder
Bladder or Urinary Infections (UTIs)
Bacteria and other organisms can cause bladder infections or
inflammation. Urinary tract infections are a common cause of bladder stones.
Infections in the bladder begin with the introduction of
bacteria. Although men develop more bladder stones, women have more bladder
infections than men. Women have shorter urethras, which makes for a shorter
path for bacteria to enter the bladder.
The urethra can be injured or damaged from illness, disease, or
trauma. It may narrow due to infection and block the flow of urine exiting your
Enlarged Prostate Gland
Your prostate gland surrounds your urethra, the thin tube that
transports urine from your bladder during urination. When the prostate gland
enlarges, it can press against the urethra and interfere with urination.
Neurogenic bladder is a condition that affects the nerves
transporting messages from your brain to the muscles of your bladder. Injury or
damage to these nerves may prevent your brain from telling your bladder’s
muscles to contract and expand in order to urinate. This can cause urine to
remain in your bladder and form stones.
The walls of your bladder may become weak in some areas and these
weakened areas can form pouches that bulge outward. Urine can collect and store
in these pouches.
Small stones can form in your kidneys and travel down the ureters,
two tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder, and cause bladder
problems. Though kidney stones differ in their development, they may become
bladder stones when they reach the bladder. Small kidney stones may not present
any problems and pass painlessly through your urine, but others may become
large enough that they have to be removed by a physician.
How Are Bladder Stones Diagnosed?
If you have complications with urination or any of the symptoms
associated with bladder stones, see your doctor. You will likely have a
physical exam prior to other diagnostic tests and if you are a man, the
physical may include checking to see if you have an enlarged prostate gland.
Diagnostic tests may include:
This test is used to check your urine for crystallization,
infection, and other abnormalities.
Spiral CT Scan
This type of CT scan checks for complications in the bladder or
anywhere else in the body, faster and more accurately than a traditional CT
Ultrasound uses sound waves to create images of the inside of your
X-rays show the inside of the bladder and most abnormalities that
may be present, however, it may not show every stone in your bladder.
During this procedure, a dye is injected into your veins that
flow through your blood vessels until it reaches your bladder. The dye
highlights any abnormal formations and then X-rays are taken of the highlighted
How Are Bladder Stones Treated?
If your doctor finds bladder stones in your body, they may
perform a cystolitholapaxy, the use of a laser, mechanical, or ultrasound
device, to break them down into smaller pieces for removal.
In cases of stones that do not break down with this procedure, surgery
may be necessary to remove stones.
long-term outlook for treating bladder stones is excellent. After treatment,
you can help prevent bladder problems by drinking plenty of water every day (at
least 8 glasses or 64 ounces) Also, seek prompt treatment for UTI symptoms or
other urinary tract conditions.