Probably at least one time in your life, you heard the phrase “bladder stones”. But what does it mean, how serious is this condition, and what is the treatment?
Bladder stones are clumps of mineralized masses of various sizes found in the bladder. They can lead to the development of some complications such as infections and urinary difficulties.
Bladder stones symptoms
The symptoms of bladder stones can range from the absence of any signs to painful feelings and bloody urine, depending on the size and location of the stones.
The common symptoms of bladder stones include:
- painful urination
- frequent urination
- interrupted urination
- difficulties with urination
- blood in the urine
- unusually dark-coloured urine
- cloudy urine
- pain in the lower parts of the abdomen
Bladder stones diagnosis
Several methods are available to diagnose bladder stones. They include a physical examination, a urine test, ultrasound, X-rays, and CT scan. Let’s talk about each of these methods more precisely.
The doctor accomplishes a physical examination and provides a questionnaire regarding the patient’s complaints. The physician may use a few techniques: feeling the lower part of the abdomen or examining the rectum. The palpation of the belly can show if there is an enlargement of the bladder. Feeling the rectus muscles helps determine if the prostate is swelling.
The collection and examination of a sample of a patient’s urine are called a urine test. It helps detect tiny pieces of blood and crystallized masses in the urine. The results of this test will also reveal whether there are any bacteria present in the sample. As was stated previously, bacterial infection can be both – the cause and the symptom of bladder stones.
Modern medicine benefits from high-frequency sound by using it as a diagnostic tool for body analysis. How does it work? The ultrasound can reflect sound waves from the organs and other objects. Therefore, any unusual sound wave reflections indicate the presence of foreign structure in the organ. In the case of the bladder, this structure can be a bladder stone.
X-ray analysis is not the most reliable method for bladder stones detection since it doesn’t show some types of stones.
CT scan is one of the most precise methods for the determination of stones in the bladder. It involves the use of X-rays in combination with computer analysis. As a result, one obtains an internal image of the body. The advantage of using this method is that a CT scan shows every type of bladder stone. It also detects even tiny stones present.
Bladder stones treatment and management
In some cases, as little effort as just drinking more water can help resolve the bladder stone issue. Unfortunately, although it can happen, it’s not usually the case. As was stated previously, one of the reasons for bladder stone formation is the inability to empty the bladder. Therefore, even drinking a lot of water cannot help to pass the stone naturally if the urinary tract is blocked. In most cases, the patient needs the application of treatment to remove bladder stones. There are two common ways of doing so.
Breaking stones apart is one of the methods applied in the treatment of this health condition. The first step is giving the numbing medication to the patient. The alternative way is to use general anesthesia to make the person unconscious. Then the doctor inserts a thin tube with a tiny camera into the patient’s bladder to see the inside of the organ. In this way, the physician can see the stones in the bladder. The devices like ultrasound or the laser are applied then to break down the stones into smaller pieces so they can freely pass through the urethra outside of the body.
Another way of treating bladder stones is to remove them surgically. There is usually a need for it when the stones are too big or complicated to break into pieces. If it is the case, the doctor performs surgery to remove stones from the patient’s bladder. It is worth mentioning that when the person has bladder stones due to an enlarged prostate or a bladder outlet obstruction, these conditions are treated simultaneously with the removal of the stones.
When to see a doctor?
It is essential to see a doctor as soon as possible when you mentioned any of the symptoms of bladder stones. Doing so can help you treat this condition at an early stage and prevent further complications. The last may include chronic bladder problems such as prolonged painful or frequent urination. In addition, in the case of an untreated bladder stone, bacterial infection may occur.