Kidney Stones

Kidney stones are not only common, they are becoming more common every year and it's not yet known why. They can be one of the most painful experiences in one's life and lead to a significant number of emergency room visits and hospitalizations. Dr. Carlsen is an expert at treating kidney stones in minimally invasive fashion and getting you back to your normal routine as quickly as possible. More importantly, we will perform the right tests to help determine what is causing you to form stones and help prevent them in the future.

What are Kidney Stones?

Urine contains numerous dissolved minerals and salts that have been filtered by the kidneys from your blood.  Kidney stones are mineral deposits that have formed within the urinary tract, generally because they are in too high of concentration to remain dissolved. This may be because of high mineral content of your diet or low fluid intake, causing dehydration and highly concentrated urine.  Some stones stay in the kidneys for years and cause no symptoms, while others try to pass and may get stuck, blocking the outflow of a kidney.  The swelling of the blocked kidney and spasm of the ureter (the urine tube that drains the kidney to the bladder) are what cause pain.


This is often very painful and patients describe a sharp pain to their back and side that may come and go in waves (also called "renal colic"). Some patients have associated nausea or vomiting. As the stone approaches the bladder, it may also create an urgent desire to urinate or having to urinate more frequently. Most patients have microscopic blood and some patients even have visible blood in their urine while they have stones. Fever or chills may be a sign of a serious and potentially life-threatening infection and you should call 911 or be evaluated in the emergency department as soon as possible.

Treatments for Kidney Stones

ESWL - Extracorporeal Shockwave Lithotripsy - sound waves used to fragment the stones

Ureteroscopy - tiny telescope placed through the urethra into the urinary tract, where a tiny laser then is used to fragment the stones

Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy - a small hole is poked right into the kidney and the stone is ground up and suctioned out. Used for very large stones

For more information: