3 Steps to Your Personal Plan
Step 1: Evaluating and Diagnosing Your Kidney Stones
To prevent kidney stones we need to understand what is causing your stones to form. Using that information we can make recommendations about changes in diet or other areas and about medicines that will work for you.
How do we get that information?
- We’ll take a complete history of your or your child’s experience with kidney stones and your family’s history of kidney stones.
- Before your first appointment, you will need to collect your or your child’s urine over a 24- hour period.
- After your first visit, we will draw some blood.
- The urine and blood will be tested for unusual levels of chemicals or other things that may be causing stones.
- If a kidney stone has been collected, we will test it to see what kind it is.
- We may recommend that you or your child have imaging tests, like x-rays, MRI or CT scans, to learn more about any stones that are still in the kidneys.
- Sometimes, the tests we perform find diseases that are connected to kidney stones, such as osteoporosis (causes bones to become weak) and hyperparathyroidism (causes bone loss).
- These diseases can be treated, which helps prevent more kidney stones – and can improve your general health.
Step 2: Creating Your Personal Plan
Once we have all the information in Step 1, we put together a prevention plan, created for you or your child. The plan usually includes diet and other changes. It might include medicine.
Changes in diet
- Drink more water (or other healthy fluids) to keep stone crystals from forming and to flush away other things that can form stones.
- Stop adding salt to food and reduce the amount of salt (sodium) you eat in processed foods.
- Eat foods that contain calcium. (Be careful with calcium supplements, which can increase the risk of kidney stones.) We’ll advise you on the best way to keep a healthy amount of calcium in your diet.
Not every patient with kidney stones needs to see a dietitian, but some find that it can help in planning meals that lower the risk of kidney stones. If you or your child is overweight, our dietitian can help you plan meals to lose weight. Being overweight increases the risk of kidney stones, but some diets can do the same, so it’s best to talk with a dietician who has worked with kidney stone patients.
Some people with certain kinds of stones can be helped with medicines that control minerals and acid in urine. The type of medication your doctor prescribes will depend on the type of kidney stones you or your child has.
Step 3: Supporting You Long Term
Your plan’s success depends on your (or your child’s) commitment to it, because preventing kidney stones takes time. The Maine Medical Partners – Kidney Stone Prevention Program will be with you every step h3 the way. We’ll keep track of how your treatment is working and make changes, if needed, to keep you healthy. These changes may include new prevention information we learn through our own research or from other specialists across the country.
Our goal, over time, is to prevent stones forming and to stop your kidney stone attacks. But, if you think you may be suffering from another kidney stone attack, you should contact your urologist first. Urologists are doctors who specialize in problems of the urinary tract, including kidney stones. Anyone with a history of severe kidney stones should have an urologist.
Answers to Your Testing Questions
What is a Litholink test?
Using a 24-hour urine sample, it measures urine factors that can prevent or promote kidney stone formation.
Why do I need a Litholink test before my appointment?
Treatments that help one person reduce their risk of kidney stones may not help another person. The Litholink test allows our doctors to create personal kidney stone prevention plans for each patient.
Why do I have to wait at least six weeks after a kidney stone removal procedure, a hospitalization, or a kidney stone attack to collect a 24-hour urine sample?
A 24-hour urine collection tells us about your body and what you eat when you’re feeling well.
Should I refrigerate my Litholink urine collection?
No, please don’t refrigerate your urine collection.
I forgot to collect my urine one time during my 24-hour collection. What should I do?
The best thing to do is call the company that makes the Litholink test at 1-800-338-4333.
What should I do if I lost my Litholink order?
Please contact us at the Maine Medical Partners – Kidney Stone Prevention Program. We can send you another order slip.
Will my insurance cover this test and appointment?
While most insurance companies cover these costs, each company is different. It’s best to call the number on the back of your insurance card to be sure. You may need a referral from your primary care physician.
When is Surgery Needed?
Large kidney stones that are stuck in the urinary tract causing pain or bleeding or those causing an infection may need to be surgically removed. Our program’s goal is to eliminate the need to remove stones with surgery, and we often work with patients who had surgery for kidney stones and hope to avoid another one.
Many of our patients stay in close contact with their urologist while on our kidney stone prevention plan. The doctors at the Maine Medical Partners – Kidney Stone Prevention Program will work closely with your regular urologist. We partner with urologists all over Maine and New England, including those at Maine Medical Center, which is home to a respected kidney stone surgery program. Their surgeons offer today’s most advanced treatment options.
Understanding Kidney Stones
Maine Medical Partners – Kidney Stone Prevention Program is involved in medical research to increase our understanding of how and why people get kidney stones and the best ways to prevent them. Our research focuses on lifestyle, hormonal and genetic (inherited) risk factors. As a patient of the program, you may be asked if your information can be used in certain studies to help others in the future.