Bladder Stones

illustration of a bladder showing a bladder stone

Bladder Stones services offered in Beverly Grove, Los Angeles, CA

Bladder stones are hard deposits that form in the bladder. While small stones might pass out of the bladder without causing symptoms, larger ones can irritate the bladder wall, block urine flow, or cause pain and infections. Certain factors can increase the risk of developing bladder stones. Early detection and treatment are crucial to prevent complications and alleviate discomfort. If you are having symptoms of bladder stones or have further concerns, contact our office or book an appointment to learn more.

Table of Contents

What are Bladder Stones?

Bladder stones are crystallized minerals that develop in the urinary tract. Typically they form due to a high concentration of certain minerals and substances. Additionally, incomplete bladder emptying can increase the risk of developing them.

The kidneys filter out waste from the bloodstream. This waste then passes through the ureters and enters the bladder to be eliminated from the body with urination. When minerals are not properly expelled during this process, the build-up can turn into what are called bladder stones.

Signs and Symptoms of Bladder Stones

Bladder stones generally consist of several combined substances. If an individual cannot empty the bladder properly, certain materials may build up inside the bladder. When this happens, the result can be the formation of bladder stones. Also, urinary stones may form from:

  • Urine that remains in the bladder when not fully emptied
  • Inflammation of the urinary tract
  • Use of a bladder catheter

In this instance, the remaining substances in the urine crystallize. The result: bladder stones.

Common Symptoms

Bladder stone patients may experience no symptoms at all. However, it below are some common symptoms:

  • Painful urination
  • Blood in urine
  • Cloudy or dark urine
  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Frequent urination
  • Urgent sense to urinate
  • Difficulty controlling urine flow

Not every patient will experience signs or symptoms of bladder stones, even if the stones are large. The stones have to cause irritation or block the flow of urine for the symptoms to develop. Otherwise, they simply go unnoticed.

What Causes Bladder Stones?

Bladder stones are typically comprised of several substances that become crystallized. If an individual cannot empty the bladder properly, these materials may build up inside the bladder, leading to the formation of bladder stones. These minerals include:

  • Uric acid
  • Calcium oxalate
  • Calcium phosphate
  • Struvite
  • And other substances.

This build-up usually occurs when an individual cannot fully empty their bladder. However, it is not uncommon that other underlying conditions may contribute to an individual’s inability to urinate. These conditions may include:

Enlarged Prostate Gland

Whatever the cause, an enlarged prostate can interfere with urine flow. This then causes urine to remain in the body longer, where it can form stones.

Neurogenic Bladder (Damaged Nerves)

If the nerves that control the bladder muscles are damaged, it may be difficult for a patient to urinate fully. The nerve damage can be caused by a stroke, spinal cord injury, or other health conditions.

Urinary Tract Infections

When the urinary tract is infected, the urethra becomes inflamed and swollen. This situation then interferes with normal urine flow. Additionally, many patients find it too painful to urinate during an infection and may avoid it for as long as possible.

Radiation Therapy

Undergoing radiation therapy in the pelvic area can cause inflammation and swelling, which can block the urethra and dissuade patients from urinating.

Kidney Stones

Stones that form in the kidney can develop from different causes. However, these stones may travel into the bladder and grow even larger.

Medical Devices

When using a catheter, some patients may not be able to completely drain the urine, leaving small amounts behind that can form stones.

Bladder Diverticula

Small pouches can develop in the bladder wall, which can collect urine and prevent it from passing out through the urethra. These appear due to:

  • Nerve damage
  • Urinary blockage
  • Congenital factors
  • Other health conditions

Treating Bladder Stones

The expert urologists at Comprehensive Urology offer various treatments for breaking up, removing, or bypassing bladder stones. Depending on the size of the stone, some patients may be able to safely pass the stones without medical treatment. However, some patients may need one of the following treatment options:

Extra-Corporeal Shockwave Lithotripsy (ESWL)

Using an x-ray, our urologists can locate stones and then break them up with shock waves from a lithotriptor. The device can be safely used from outside the body, making it ideal. Also, it can successfully break up the stone mass into small enough pieces that can pass through the urinary tract.

Transurethral Cystolitholapaxy

Using a long, thin fiber-optic instrument, our urologists can enter through the urethra. This instrument allows them to locate bladder stones and remove them with a laser and/or small scooping basket through the urethra.

Percutaneous Suprapubic Cystolitholapaxy

Occasionally, a stone is too large to be broken up with transurethral methods. The same situation applies when treating young children. In these cases, it may prove necessary to make a small incision in the patient’s lower abdominal wall. This allows for the use of larger instruments to break up the mass. An indwelling catheter may be placed to assist with urination.

Open Suprapubic Cystolitholapaxy

Bladder stones sometimes prove too large to break up or remove with minimally-invasive methods. In such cases, an incision is made in the lower abdomen and then into the bladder to remove the masses. An indwelling catheter may be placed, as well as a possible second catheter in the lower abdomen until the bladder heals.

Bladder Stones vs. Kidney Stones

Kidney stones develop due to tiny crystals in an individual’s urine. When the urine becomes concentrated, these crystals coalesce, which results in hard deposits. The deposits then may start to move around the kidney. Or, they eventually may pass into the ureter and bladder. Once in the bladder, they should normally leave the body at the time of urination because the urethra is much larger than the ureter. Therefore, they should pass without a problem. However, this does not always prove to be the case.

Bladder stones generally consist of substances in the setting of incomplete bladder emptying. If one cannot evacuate urine from the bladder properly, these materials may build up inside the bladder, leading to the formation of large or multiple bladder stones. In other words, the presence of bladder stones should automatically trigger an assessment of bladder drainage adequacy.

Schedule your Consultation

To learn more about treating bladder stones, contact Comprehensive Urology today. We can provide timely treatment that can alleviate you of symptoms in a professional environment. Additionally, we can provide additional exams and options to discover the cause of your stones and help prevent a recurrence.


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