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Ask the Medical Expert Archives 2000-2004

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Kidney Stones
September 2001

Q. A scan was done in 1996 (due to a persistent fever I had when I was pregnant) and I was diagnosed with a small stone, and was told that ESWL would be able to treat it. In 1997 a PCNL was done but some residual remain. Since then many ESWL have been carried out (every 1 to 3 months). I have to drink plenty of water 24 hours a day. Augmentin is effective in my treatment of infection. What is the side effect of having long term ESWL treatment? What are other solutions? Other than surgery, are there any herbs that can help? If I am to get pregnant again, what are the risk?

A. I assume you are referring to kidney stones, which are a common problem, but your situation sounds more severe in that you have had several episodes and they have been difficult to treat. In about half the cases of kidney stones, the affected person will only have a single episode in a lifetime. The majority of stones are small and pass spontaneously, but if the stones are large and obstructing the kidney, treatment is often difficult. Methods include the shockwave treatments like you have had ("lithotripsy") and other surgical methods. In cases of recurrent or severe stones, additional diagnostic tests are needed to look for a cause that can treated to prevent a recurrence. For example blood tests and urine collections can be done to see if excess calcium or uric acid is being filtered by the kidneys. Your doctor can evaluate which tests would be helpful. High water intake is needed by all kidney stone patients to keep the urine dilute.




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