What Happens if a Kidney Stone is Untreated?

Kidney stones are actually made up of hard deposits of minerals and salts that form inside the kidneys, and many individuals are genetically predisposed to developing them. However, other factors, including body weight, diet, medications, supplements, and certain medical conditions, increase the chances that a person will develop kidney stones.

Kidney stones must be treated promptly by medical professionals. Failure to diagnose kidney failure or stones could lead to serious consequences for an individual, including permanent damage to the kidneys or other organs and even death.

Kidney Stones Left Untreated – A Painful Prospect

Sometimes, people are unaware they have a kidney stone until painful, obvious symptoms begin to set in. Some of the most common symptoms related to kidney stones include:

  • Sharp pain, particularly in the back and side
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Hematuria or blood in the urine
  • Pain or burning when urinating
  • More frequent urination
  • Fever or chills
  • Constipation or diarrhea

The individuals experiencing any of these types of symptoms should seek immediate medical treatment from their primary care physician or, if the pain is extreme, an emergency room physician.

Left untreated, kidney stones will continue to cause problems, and they will compound in magnitude. Some of the main consequences associated with untreated kidney stones that individuals may notice fairly quickly include:

  • Kidney stones getting stuck in the ureter which can cause a blockage
  • Kidney infections can affect the working of the kidney and other organs
  • Sepsis, which is a serious condition and is the body’s response to an infection

In some cases, kidney stones could lead to chronic kidney disease or even kidney failure.

What Are Kidney Stone Treatment Options?

There are several treatment options for kidney stones, ranging from minimally invasive to surgical care. These treatment options include the following:

  • Hydration. This includes increasing water intake to pass smaller stones naturally and is typically recommended for stones less than 5 millimeters in size.
  • Pain Management. Common pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can be used. Sometimes, stronger pain medication is prescribed by doctors.
  • Medical Therapy. Alpha-blockers like tamsulosin help pass stones by relaxing muscles in the ureter. This is effective for stones 5-10 millimeters in size.
  • Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL). This uses shock waves to break the stone into small pieces that can then be passed in the urine and is suitable for stones less than 2 centimeters in the kidney.
  • Ureteroscopy. This encompasses a small scope inserted into the urethra to remove or break apart stones and is appropriate for stones located in the ureter or kidney.
  • Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy. This is the surgical removal of larger kidney stones through a small incision in the back and is typically used for stones over 2 centimeters or in complex cases.

Each treatment option for kidney stones has risks and benefits, and your choice of treatment should be made in consultation with your healthcare provider. For more comprehensive information, we encourage you to consult with a primary care physician or an emergency room doctor. If you believe that your kidney stones have been untreated due to the negligent actions of a medical provider, we encourage you to contact a Portland medical malpractice attorney who can offer you a free consultation on your claim.