Thumbnail image of: Kidney: Illustration
Thumbnail image of: Urinary System: Illustration

Kidney Stones (Renal Calculi) Discharge Information

What are kidney stones (renal calculi)?

Kidney stones, also called renal calculi, are solid pieces of material that form in the kidneys from substances in the urine. Stones can occur in any part of the urinary system from the kidneys to the bladder. They may be small or large. You may have just one stone or many.

There are several types of kidney stones, but most stones are calcium stones. They happen when there is too much calcium in the urine. Some calcium stones are caused by too much of a chemical called oxalate that is found in many foods. Oxalate binds easily with calcium to form a stone.

A second type of kidney stone happens because you have too much uric acid in your urine. Uric acid stones might start if you become dehydrated, such as during strenuous exercise on a hot day or during an illness. Uric acid stones are common in people who have gout, a disease that causes high uric acid levels in the blood.

Struvite stones are a third type. They are also called infection stones because they form in urine that is infected with bacteria. Finally, a rare type of kidney stone is a cystine stone. Cystine is a type of amino acid that helps your body make proteins. When your kidneys allow too much cystine into the urine it forms cystine stones

How can I take care of myself when I go home?

How long it takes to get better depends on the type of stone you have and the type of treatment you need. You may need to make some diet changes to prevent future kidney stones.


Your provider will give you a list of your medicines when you leave the hospital.

  • Know your medicines. Know what they look like, how much you are to take each time, how often you are to take them, and why you take each one.
  • Take your medicines exactly as your provider tells you to.
  • Carry a list of your medicines in your wallet or purse. Include any nonprescription medicines and supplements on the list.
  • Your provider may prescribe medicine to:
    • Treat pain
    • Treat or prevent an infection
    • Reduce swelling in the urinary tract
    • Prevent nausea
    • Prevent more stones from developing
  • Your healthcare provider may recommend that you drink larger quantities of fluids to help you pass kidney stones and change your diet to help prevent future stones.
  • You may be asked to collect and strain your urine. This will allow your provider to check the size and type of stones that you have.


  • Follow your provider’s instructions for follow-up appointments.
  • Keep appointments for any routine testing you may need.
  • Talk with your provider about any questions or fears you have.

Diet, Exercise, and Other Lifestyle Changes

  • Follow the treatment plan your healthcare provider prescribes.
  • Follow activity restrictions, such as not driving or operating machinery, as recommended by your healthcare provider or pharmacist, especially if you are taking pain medicines.
  • Ask your healthcare provider if there are any foods or medicines you should avoid.
  • Drink enough fluids to keep your urine light yellow in color, unless you are told to limit fluids.
  • Get plenty of rest while you’re recovering. Try to get at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.

Call your healthcare provider if you have new or worsening:

  • Back pain
  • Abdominal cramps or pain
  • Burning with urination
  • Blood in your urine
  • Passing gravel-like or sand-like stones in the urine
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Signs of infection around your surgical wound if you had surgery. These include:
    • The area around your wound is more red or painful
    • The wound area is very warm to touch
    • You have blood, pus, or other fluid coming from your wound area
    • You have chills or muscle aches
    • Fever higher than 101.5° F (38.6° C)
Developed by RelayHealth.
Acute Care Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2013-12-11
Last reviewed: 2013-12-11
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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