What are cystine stones?

Cystine stones are a type of kidney stones. Kidney stones happen when collections of chemicals come together to create a hard mass. These stones can be formed by several different chemicals in the body. Cystine stones are made of a chemical called cystine, a product of a condition called cystinuria. Stones can be a variety of sizes. Cystine stones tend to be larger and sometimes need to be removed surgically to prevent damage to the kidneys or urinary tract. This is a rare condition that is passed down through families (an inherited condition).

What is cystinuria?

Cystinuria is an inherited condition that causes the chemical cystine (an amino acid in your body) to build up in the urine. Collection of cystine in your urine can cause a type of kidney stone. This condition can cause multiple stones to occur throughout your life.

Who gets cystinuria?

Cystinuria is an inherited condition (runs in families) that impacts people in all age groups. Children, teens, people in their 20s and 30s, as well as older adults can all develop cystine stones.

What causes cystine stones?

Cystine stones are caused by a collection of the amino acid cystine. This occurs in people with a condition called cystinuria. Cystinuria is passed down through a family.

Cystine forms crystals that combine to create stones in the urine.

What are the symptoms of cystine stones?

The symptoms of cystine stones are similar to those of kidney stones.

Symptoms can include:

  • Painful urination.
  • Vomiting and upset stomach.
  • Seeing blood in your urine.
  • Feeling a sharp pain in your side or back (this is typically on one side of the body).
  • Feeling pain in your groin or abdomen.

In some cases, a urinary tract infection (UTI) may occur because a cystine stone is stuck. Cystine stones tend to be larger than other types of kidney stones, causing complications like UTIs.

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