Bladder Stones: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

What are bladder stones?

Bladder stones, also called vesical calculus or cystoliths, are caused by an accumulation of minerals into small masses. They occur when urine in the bladder is not fully removed during urination and becomes concentrated.

This concentration of the urine causes normal minerals within the urine to crystallize. Sometimes, these stones will be passed when they are still minute. Other times, bladder stones become fixed to the wall of the bladder or ureter and gradually accumulate more mineral crystals, growing larger over time.

Bladder Stones Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

Bladder stones can remain in the bladder for some time and do not always cause any symptoms. They are often initially picked up when an X-ray is carried out for another medical reasons.

Sometimes, especially with smaller stones, they can be passed during normal urination. Bigger bladder stones may need to be removed by health care professionals.

Bladder stones can consist of a variety of minerals; the following list covers a selection of potential ingredients:

  • Calcium oxalate monohydrate
  • Calcium phosphate
  • Calcium oxalate dihydrate
  • Magnesium phosphate
  • Ammonium magnesium phosphate
  • Ammonium phosphate
  • Calcium hydroxyphosphate
  • Uric acid
  • Xanthine
  • Cystine
  • Urostealith (rare).

The stones themselves come in a variety of sizes; the smallest are barely visible to the naked eye. The largest bladder stone, according to Guinness World Records, weighed almost 4 lbs 3 oz and measured 17.9 x 12.7 x 9.5 centimeters.

The stone was removed in 2003 from 62-year-old José de Castro da Silva at the Instituto do Câncer “Arnaldo Vieira de Carvalho,” São Paulo City, Brazil.

Stones can be singular or appear in a group. Some stones are almost spherical while others can have long and irregular projections on their surfaces.

Symptoms of bladder stones

As mentioned above, bladder stones may not present symptoms for some time. But, if the stone irritates the bladder, symptoms can include the following:

  • Discomfort or pain in the penis for males
  • More frequent urination or interruption of flow
  • Slow onset of urination
  • Pain in the lower abdomen
  • Pain and discomfort when urinating
  • Blood in the urine
  • Cloudy or abnormally dark urine.

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