What are Bladder Stones? Symptoms and Removal of Bladder Stone

Bladder stones are the solid masses or crystals that are made of minerals and proteins found in the urine. The stones are formed when the bladder doesn’t empty completely. The concentrated urine left in the bladder leads to the formation of crystals or hard stones in the bladder.

Your urine consists of about 95 per cent of water and 5 per cent of minerals and proteins. But, concentrated urine consists of more waste products and less water. The reason for the formation of concentrated urine is dehydration or the inability to empty your bladder completely. The colour of the concentrated urine varies from dark amber to brown based on the type of minerals present in it.

In most cases, your bladder stones do not cause any signs and symptoms. The bladder stones which are very small expels on their own. But, if the stones are large, you might benefit by taking the doctor’s help. If it is not treated, bladder stones may lead to severe complications.

What Causes Bladder Stones

The formation of bladder stones results from stagnant concentrated urine in the bladder. This may be due to underlying urinary tract problems. The conditions that contribute to the formation of stones include:

  • Urinary tract or bladder infections: Urinary tract infections are considered the common cause of bladder stones. The infection of the bladder causes inflammation resulting in stone formation.
  • Prostate gland enlargement: The prostate gland, a thin tube surrounding the urethra, transports urine from your bladder. When there is an enlargement of the prostate gland, it compresses the urethra and interferes with urine flow. Thus, the urine remains in your bladder leading to the formation of crystals.
  • Damaged nerves: Sometimes, the nerves that transport the signal from the bladder to the brain may get affected. The damage to these nerves causes abnormal contraction and relaxation of the bladder muscles resulting inappropriate urination.
  • Weak bladder: The walls of the bladder become weak due to underlying medical conditions. The weakened areas may form pouches where the urine is collected leading to the formation of the stones.
  • Kidney stones: Bladder stones differ from kidney stones. In some instances, the small kidney stones travel down the ureters into your bladder. If they are not excreted, they may develop into bladder stones.

Bladder Stone Symptoms

Some individuals do not have any symptoms. But, if the stone blocks the urine flow or irritates the bladder wall, then you may have the following symptoms:

  • Frequent painful urination
  • Pain in the lower abdomen
  • Blood in the urine
  • Difficulty urination
  • Abnormally dark-colored urine
  • Urinary incontinence

Risk factors and complications

Children in developing countries are more prone to develop bladder stones. This is because of dehydration and a poor diet that is low in proteins and minerals. Men are at increased risk of developing bladder stones due to prostate problems.

Other medical conditions that increase the risk of bladder stones include bladder outlet obstruction and neurogenic bladder.

If the bladder stones are left untreated, it may lead to chronic bladder dysfunction and urinary tract infections.

Your doctor performs a thorough physical examination before diagnostic tests. If your doctor suspects bladder stone, you may be recommended to undergo any of the following tests:

  • Urinalysis The test is used to check your urine for any infection or abnormalities.
  • Spiral computerized tomography (CT) scan: The spiral CT scan is a very sensitive test used to detect the presence of stones in the bladder.
  • Ultrasound and X-rays: These tests are used to detect stones in the urinary system.
  • Intravenous pyelogram: The intravenous pyelogram is one of the special imaging techniques used to identify stones. In this procedure, a dye is injected into your vein and allowed to flow through the urinary system (kidney, ureters, and bladder). Then X-ray images are taken at a particular point in time to check for the stones.

If you’re diagnosed with very small bladder stones, your doctor may advise you to increase fluid intake to facilitate the passage of the stones in the urine. But, larger stones may require surgery.

The common surgical procedure used to break down the bladder stone is “cystolitholapaxy”. During the procedure, your doctor inserts a cystoscope into your bladder (thin tube with camera and light on the end) and then uses a laser, mechanical, or ultrasound device to break the stones into smaller pieces.

In some instances, the bladder stone may be too hard to break down. Therefore, your doctor may suggest an open surgery that involves an incision in the bladder and direct removal of the bladder.

Follow these tips to reduce your risk of developing bladder stones:

Increase the intake of fluids to 3 litres per day so that the concentration of the urine is lowered

  • Empty your bladder regularly without any delay
  • Avoid constipation
  • Practice double voiding (urinate for 10 to 20 seconds after your first attempt to empty the bladder completely)

FAQ- Bladder Stones

In most cases, bladder stones do not cause any signs and symptoms. The bladder stones which are very small expels on their own. But, if the stones are large, It might benefit by taking the doctor’s help. If it is not treated, bladder stones may lead to severe complications.

If you’re diagnosed with very small bladder stones, your doctor may advise you to increase fluid intake to facilitate the passage of the stones in the urine. But larger bladder stones may require surgery.