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Ureteral Stones

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jul 4, 2022.

What is a ureteral stone?

A ureteral stone forms in the kidney and moves down the ureter and gets stuck there. The ureter is the tube that takes urine from the kidney to the bladder. Stones can form in the urinary system when your urine has high levels of minerals and salts. Urinary stones can be made of uric acid, calcium, phosphate, or oxalate crystals.

Kidney, Ureters, Bladder

What increases my risk for urinary stones?

  • Not drinking enough liquids (especially water) each day
  • Having urinary tract infections often
  • Too much of certain foods, such as meat, salt, nuts, and chocolate
  • Obesity
  • Certain medicines, such as diuretics, steroids, and antacids
  • A family history of kidney stones
  • Being born with a kidney or bowel disorder

What are the signs and symptoms of ureteral stones?

  • Severe pain on your lower abdomen or groin
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Urge to urinate often, or not being able to urinate easily
  • Burning feeling when you urinate, or pink or red urine

How are ureteral stones diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will examine you and ask about your symptoms. Tell your provider about your activity level and your usual foods. Also tell your provider about any health conditions you have. You may also need any of the following:

  • Urine tests may show if you have blood in your urine. They may also show high amounts of the substances that form stones, such as uric acid.
  • Blood tests show how well your kidneys are working. They may also be used to check the levels of calcium or uric acid in your blood.
  • An x-ray or CT scan of your kidneys, ureters, and bladder may be done. You may be given contrast liquid to help these show up better in the pictures. You may need to have more than one x-ray. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid.

How are ureteral stones treated?

  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
  • Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask your healthcare provider how to take this medicine safely. Some prescription pain medicines contain acetaminophen. Do not take other medicines that contain acetaminophen without talking to your healthcare provider. Too much acetaminophen may cause liver damage. Prescription pain medicine may cause constipation. Ask your healthcare provider how to prevent or treat constipation.
  • Nausea medicine may help calm your stomach and prevent vomiting.
  • A procedure or surgery to remove the ureteral stone may be needed if it does not pass on its own.

Treatment options

The following list of medications are in some way related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

What can I do to manage uretal stones?

  • Drink more liquids. Your healthcare provider may tell you to drink at least 8 to 12 (eight-ounce) cups of liquid each day. This helps flush out the stones when you urinate. Water is the best liquid to drink. Your urine will be clear (not yellow) if you are drinking enough liquid.
  • Strain your urine every time you go to the bathroom. Urinate through a strainer or a piece of thin cloth to catch the stone. Take the stone to your healthcare provider so it can be sent to a lab for tests. This will help your healthcare providers plan the best treatment for you.
    Look for Stones in the Filter
  • Ask your healthcare provider about any nutrition changes you need to make. You may need to limit certain foods, such as foods high in sodium (salt) or protein. You may need to limit leafy green vegetables, carbonated drinks, or beer. These changes will depend on the kind of stones you have.
    High Oxalate Foods
  • Stay active. Your stones may pass more easily if you stay active. Exercise can also help you manage your weight. Ask about the best activities for you.
    Ways to Be Physically Active

When should I seek immediate care?

  • You have severe pain that does not improve, even after you take medicine.
  • You have vomiting that is not relieved by medicine.

When should I call my doctor?

  • You develop a fever.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.