Kidney and ureteral stones are very common, but it is difficult to get an accurate figure for the number of sufferers in Europe.
Kidney or ureter stones often pass without any discomfort but this disease can be amongst the most painful experiences known. In the past, this was seen as a “Cinderella disease”, a disease which was reasonably common but with little public visibility. Today, however, more people are likely to form stones because of the changes in the Western diet and lifestyle.
What is a stone?
A stone is a hard, solid mass that can form in the gallbladder, bladder, and kidneys. These types of stones have different causes and are treated in different ways.
Kidney and ureteral stones develop in the kidney and either stay there or move to the ureter (Fig. 1).
Kidney stones form when minerals or acid salts in your urine crystalise. Most stones leave your body while you urinate. However, sometimes stones get stuck in the ureter, block the normal flow of urine, and cause symptoms. Stones can also be too big to leave the kidney. In both cases, you may need treatment to remove the stone.