Kidney Stone Analysis: MedlinePlus Lab Test Information


What is a kidney stone analysis?

Kidney stones are small, pebble-like substances made from chemicals in your urine. They are formed in the kidneys when high levels of certain substances, such as minerals or salts, get into the urine. A kidney stone analysis is a test that figures out what a kidney stone is made of. There are four main types of kidney stones:

  • Calcium, the most common type of kidney stone
  • Uric acid, another common type of kidney stone
  • Struvite, a less common stone that is caused by urinary tract infections
  • Cystine, a rare type of stone that tends to run in families

Kidney stones can be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a golf ball. Many stones pass through your body when you urinate. Larger or odd-shaped stones can get stuck inside the urinary tract and may need treatment. While kidney stones rarely cause serious damage, they can be very painful.

If you’ve had a kidney stone in the past, you are likely to get another one. A kidney stone analysis provides information on what a stone is made of. This can help your health care provider develop a treatment plan to reduce your risk of forming more stones.

Other names: urinary stone analysis, renal calculus analysis

What is it used for?

A kidney stone analysis is used to:

  • Figure out the chemical makeup of a kidney stone
  • Help guide a treatment plan to prevent more stones from forming

Why do I need a kidney stone analysis?

You may need a kidney stone analysis if you have symptoms of a kidney stone. These include:

If you’ve already passed a kidney stone and you kept it, your health care provider may ask you to bring it in for testing. He or she will give you instructions on how to clean and package the stone.

What happens during a kidney stone analysis?

You will get a kidney stone strainer from your health care provider or from a drug store. A kidney stone strainer is a device made of fine mesh or gauze. It is used to filter your urine. You will also get or be asked to provide a clean container to hold your stone. To collect your stone for testing, do the following:

  • Filter all your urine through the strainer.
  • After each time you urinate, check the strainer carefully for particles. Remember that a kidney stone can be very small. It may look like a grain of sand or a tiny piece of gravel.
  • If you find a stone, put it in the clean container, and let it dry.
  • DO NOT add any fluid, including urine, to the container.
  • DO NOT add tape or tissue to the stone.
  • Return the container to your health care provider or laboratory as instructed.

If your kidney stone is too large to pass, you may need a minor surgical procedure to remove the stone for testing.

Will I need to do anything to prepare for the test?

You don’t need any special preparations for a kidney stone analysis.

Are there any risks to the test?

There is no known risk to having a kidney stone analysis.

What do the results mean?

Your results will show what your kidney stone is made of. Once your health care provider has these results, he or she can recommend steps and/or medicines that may prevent you from forming more stones. The recommendations will depend on the chemical makeup of your stone.

If you have questions about your results, talk to your health care provider.

Is there anything else I need to know about a kidney stone analysis?

It’s important to filter all your urine through the kidney stone strainer until you find your kidney stone. The stone may pass at any time, day or night.

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