The doctor will perform a physical exam. This includes tapping on the back over the kidneys and pressing on the abdomen to detect tender locations.
The patient's age is a significant factor. Kidney stones that occur in children and young patients are more likely to result from inherited problems that cause excess cystine, xanthine, or, in some cases, calcium oxalate. In adult patients, calcium stones are most common.
A medical history may help predict which crystal has formed the stone. The doctor will need to know the following:
- Any previous kidney stone attacks
- History of cancer, sarcoidosis, or small bowel disease
- Any medications being taken, including non-prescription substances, particularly high doses of vitamins D or C and calcium-containing antacids
Ruling out Other Disorders
Many conditions can cause symptoms similar to those of kidney stones. Usually the diagnosis is easily made because of the specific nature of the symptoms, but it is not always clear. Urinary tract infections can cause similar, but usually less intense, pain. In fact, people with an infection may also have a kidney stone.
Other causes of pain that may mimic kidney stones include:
Review Date: 06/08/2010
Reviewed By: Reviewed by: Harvey Simon, MD, Editor-in-Chief, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.