Staghorn kidney stones are large, fast-growing stones with “branches.” They can block the urinary tract, causing inflammation, severe pain, and serious complications.
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This article reviews staghorn kidney stones, who is most likely to develop them, their symptoms, causes, and more.
Staghorn kidney stones are a type of large urinary calculus, or stone, that takes up a large portion of the urinary collecting area in the kidney. They often present in only one kidney, but in up to
They often form due to recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs).
Are they serious?
Staghorn kidney stones can cause diminished kidney function and result in serious symptoms, including urosepsis. This is a type of sepsis, a life threatening reaction, due to infections of the urinary tract. Staghorn kidney stones can also cause pain and discomfort.
People with these stones have a high morbidity and mortality rate.
They will typically require surgery to remove the entire stone to help prevent infections and recurrence.
Staghorn kidney stones are large and disruptive. As a result, nearly everyone who develops them will experience symptoms, such as:
There are several potential causes and risk factors of staghorn kidney stones. They develop due to recurrent UTIs.
- congenital urinary tract malformations
- distal renal tubular acidosis
- medullary sponge kidney
- renal tract anomalies
- neurogenic bladder, where the nerves or the brain cannot communicate effectively with the bladder muscles
- ileal ureteral diversion, where, following a surgical procedure, a segment of the intestine directs urine through a stoma
- having an indwelling Foley catheter
The American Urological Association also list the following risk factors for kidney stones:
- bowel conditions, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
- surgery, such as gastric bypass surgery
- certain medications
- calcium and vitamin C supplements
- family history of kidney stones
Can diet cause staghorn kidney stones?
Unlike other, more common types of stones, diet does not directly influence the formation of staghorn kidney stones.
For example, a person prone to uric acid stones can avoid animal proteins to help prevent their formation.
To diagnose staghorn kidney stones, a doctor will often review the presenting symptoms with the person. They will likely perform a physical exam and review the person’s medical and family history.
To make a formal diagnosis, they may use one or more of the following imaging tests:
PCNL is a type of surgery to remove kidney stones. During the procedure, a surgeon creates an opening from the skin to the back of the kidney.
They then insert a tube and use it to insert instruments that can remove the stone.
PCNL is not always successful. The success of the surgery varies depending on the complexity of the stones, the surgeons, and other factors. People may also need more than one surgery to remove the stones.
Previously, doctors preferred open surgery to remove the stone and return kidney function. Open surgery involves making a much larger opening, leading to longer recovery times. However, some studies
Another removal technique is extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy, which uses shock waves or a laser to break up the stones.
Recovery from treatment
Recovery will vary according to the treatment. A person generally recovers faster with fewer complications when a doctor removes the stone with PCNL.
Following the procedure, a person should follow all recommendations from their doctor and medical team to help prevent complications and reduce the risk of recurrence.
A person can take steps to help reduce the likelihood of staghorn kidney stone recurrence. They
- dietary changes
- taking oral urease inhibitors
- taking antibiotics
- staying hydrated
A doctor can prescribe medications and explain other steps a person can take to prevent a recurrence.
Staghorn kidney stones have a
If surgeons are unable to remove all of the kidney stones, a person should be able to pass the remaining stone fragments in their urine over the following weeks.
Without treatment, someone will likely experience recurrent UTIs and loss of kidney function.
A person should contact their doctor if they develop any symptoms indicating an issue with their kidneys. This includes lower flank pain and blood in the urine.
A doctor can diagnose the issue and recommend the right treatment.
Staghorn kidney stones are large deposits that block urinary output in the body. They often cause symptoms such as pain in the lower side and blood in the urine. Staghorn kidney stones can also cause urosepsis, which refers to sepsis due to infections of the urinary tract.
Females are more likely than males to develop staghorn kidney stones. People with recurrent UTIs are also more susceptible.
Treatment typically involves surgically removing the stone. However, a person has a higher risk of recurrence or infection if surgeons cannot remove the entire stone.