Bladder stones occur when there is a build-up of uric acid in the bladder. Chronic bladder infections or blockages to the flow of urine are usually responsible for the formation of stones. However, in rare cases, a lack of fluid (dehydration) can also cause a bladder stone. Bladder stones cause typical symptoms when urinating. Different methods can be used to remove bladder stones.
Bladder stones mainly occur when the urine cannot flow out of the bladder properly. The reasons for this can be prostate enlargement, constriction of the urethra or a neurological-related micturition disturbance; for example, in patients with multiple sclerosis. However, a chronic bladder infection, dehydration or a bladder catheter can facilitate the development of bladder stones.
Bladder stones typically manifest through symptoms during urination. They often cause pain after urination or interrupt the urine stream during urination. The latter is also known as staccato urination. Frequent urination and a feeling of having a foreign body in the bladder are also characteristic symptoms. Blood is sometimes visible in the urine. Symptoms when urinating and in particular blood in the urine should always be checked by a doctor. In rare cases, a tumour can also cause such symptoms.
Bladder stones are diagnosed on the basis of the patient’s medical history and the characteristic symptoms. Further examinations such as an ultrasound and a cystoscopy are carried out to confirm the diagnosis.
A cystoscopy is also a treatment method for bladder stones. The majority of stones can be removed during a cystoscopy. Surgery is only required in rare cases if the bladder stones are very large. An alternative to surgery is to destroy the bladder stones with high energy shock waves. Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) involves destroying the stones with focused sound waves from outside the body.