What are bladder stones?
Bladder stones are hard crystal masses formed by minerals and protein that are found in urine. The stones are also called bladder calculi. Stones can form in any of the organs that make up the urinary system. Bladder stones form in the bladder, which holds urine. Bladder stones may be related to stones that have formed in other parts of the urinary tract, such as the kidneys.
Who gets bladder stones?
Both men and women can develop bladder stones. Children can get stones, but this is rare in developed countries. The risk is higher for people who are paralyzed, who have had bladder augmentation, or who have bladder outlet obstruction.
What causes bladder stones?
Bladder stones are caused by concentrated urine that stays in the bladder for too long. Certain minerals form crystals that stick together into stones. Being unable to empty the bladder completely can lead to the formation of stones.
Causes of inability to empty the bladder can include:
- Enlarged prostate (men): The prostate is an organ that surrounds the urethra, the tube that lets urine pass out of the body. When the prostate is enlarged, it may cause pressure that keeps urine in the body.
- Cystocele (women): This condition happens when the bladder wall, weakened from straining or childbirth, falls into the vagina. The flow of urine is blocked.
- Neurogenic bladder: This condition happens when the nerves of the bladder are damaged. Damage can happen because of nerve or spinal cord injury. Many people with neurogenic bladder have to use catheters (thin, flexible tubes) that are inserted into the ureter to remove urine. Sometimes, the catheter is unable to remove all of the urine. In addition, the catheter might be a place where crystals collect, forming stones.
- Bladder diverticula: This condition means that there are pouches within the bladder that may become big enough to interfere with urine leaving the body.
- Bladder augmentation: This is an operation to make the bladder bigger by adding tissue from the bowel. People who need this surgery often develop bladder stones.
- Diet: A diet that does not include enough fluid can lead to stones. Some stones are related to limited protein in the diet. Calcium levels in the urine may also be an issue.
What are the symptoms of bladder stones?
- Constant need to urinate, especially at night
- Pain or other problems when urinating
- Pain in or near the penis
- Blood in the urine
- Pain in the lower part of the abdomen
- Dark or cloudy urine
- Frequent infections in the urinary tract