Bladder Stones

Bladder stones are caused by a build-up of minerals in the bladder. They occur when the bladder does not empty completely after urination and the remaining urine becomes concentrated; this creates an environment for the minerals in the fluid to become crystals.

Sometimes these bladder stones can be expelled spontaneously while they are still very small. Other times, the stones remain in the lower bladder, without symptoms, and gradually build up into a larger stone over time.

Bladder stones can therefore remain in the bladder for some time and do not always cause symptoms. They may even be found incidentally during an X-ray examination. Some stones are almost spherical, while others may be irregularly shaped. In addition, they can measure from a few millimeters to several centimeters.

This condition is more common in men over 50.

What are the symptoms of bladder stones?

Symptoms may include:
  • Discomfort or pain in the penis.
  • Hesitation to start urinating.
  • Pain in the suprapubic area.
  • Pain and discomfort during urination.
  • Blood in the urine (hematuria).
  • Cloudy urine.

    What are the associated conditions for developing bladder stones?

    • Neurogenic bladder.
    • Complication of benign prostatic hypertrophy.
    • Indwelling urinary catheter.
    • Chronic urinary bladder infection.
    • Diverticulum of the bladder.
    • Cystocele: rather rare in women.

    What are the possible complications of bladder stones?

    • Bladder dysfunction: frequent, painful and uncomfortable urination. Sometimes bladder stones can even create an obstruction.
    • Repeated infections of the urinary tract.

    What are the tests to diagnose bladder stones?

    • Urinalysis: presence of microscopic hematuria.
    • Computed tomography.
    • Pelvic ultrasound.
    • Plain X-ray of the abdomen.
    • Cystoscopy

    What are the treatments for bladder stones?

    The treatment of bladder stones of a few centimeters is cystolitholapaxy which is performed through the urethra using a laser and a fragmentation forceps. It can sometimes require several sessions. If the stones are too large to be broken down by cystolitholapaxy, surgery is the second alternative. A suspubic incision is made with a small incision in the bladder. Any surgery carries certain risks, so cystolitholapaxy is always the first choice.

    How can I prevent bladder stones?

    Bladder stones are caused by a variety of medical conditions and there is no specific way to prevent them. However, when an associated condition is present, monitoring and treatment can often prevent them. In particular, a man with benign prostatic hypertrophy and borderline emptying should be monitored regularly.

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