Kidney or urinary stones are one of the most common diseases of the urinary tract. It is estimated that about 1 in 10 people in the US will have a urinary stone during their lifetime. Given how common this disease is, people should have a good understanding of it. However, this is not always the case. Explains Dr. Viacheslav Iremashvili, Urologist with Hannibal Regional Medical Group, “In my daily practice I encounter some people with a little familiarity with this problem, but there are also many who have incorrect beliefs about urinary stones.”
Myth #1 - Kidney stones are caused by specific foods/beverages
Beliefs that a particular beverage or specific food lead to the formation of urinary stones are widespread among both patients and medical professionals. There is, however, very little to no evidence to support most of them. Dr. Iremashvili says, “For example it was long believed that dairy products might cause stone formation. It appeared logical since most stones contain calcium, and milk and other dairy products have fairly large amounts of this mineral. Patients with urinary stones were therefore advised to avoid dairy products. However, research did not confirm any positive effects of such a diet on the risk of stone formation and in fact patents following this diet developed stones at a higher rate.”
Myth #2 - Urinary stones can be dissolved with certain medications or diet
While many different substances were tried over the centuries in attempts to dissolve urinary stones, a majority of them could not be proven to be medically effective. Most stones consist of calcium salts and are not amenable to dissolution via pharmacological or dietary means. The only variety of urinary stones which could be made smaller through conservative therapy are stones consisting of uric acid, which are relatively uncommon. Dr. Iremashvili says it is therefore important to identify patients with uric acid stones as their treatment options are different from the majority of stone-formers.
Myth #3 - If someone gets a urinary stone he/she will keep forming them
While urinary stones are generally considered to be a chronic disease, a significant portion of patients (about 50%) have only one stone episode in their lifetime. Furthermore, given the importance of lifestyle/dietary factors in stone formation many patients can avoid recurrences by increasing their fluid intake and avoiding salt. “There are also tests which can provide additional information about individual risk factors for stone formation which, if corrected, might reduce the risk of stone recurrence further,” adds Dr. Iremashvili.
Myth #4 - Urinary stones are usually treated with lithotripsy using sounds waves
Introduction of the sound waves based stone destruction in 1980’s resulted in revolutionary changes in the management of this disease. Prior to development of this technology, patients with stones were usually treated with surgeries requiring incisions to get to the affected part of the urinary tract. These surgeries had substantial morbidity rates as well as significant risks. While sound waves based lithotripsy is certainly preferable to open surgeries in most patients with urinary stone disease, indirect fragmentation of the stones has a number of limitations and has been losing its popularity as new technologies developed. With the introduction of small flexible endoscopes which can reach any part of the urinary tract, stone destruction using laser under direct visualization became the standard of care option for many patients with urinary stones.
Dr. Iremashvili has an extensive research background focused on erectile dysfunction, infertility, prostate cancer, and urinary stone disease. He has more than 60 publications, many of which have been cited in guidelines of the American Urological Association. He offers a wide range of urological treatment options, from established standards of care, to new minimally invasive procedures performed laparoscopically and robotically. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Iremashvili, call 573-629-3514.