Types of kidney stones

There are four main types of kidney stones.

Calcium stones

Nearly 80% of all kidney stones are made of calcium compounds, especially calcium oxalate.1 Calcium phosphate and other minerals also may be present. Conditions that cause high calcium levels in the body, such as hyperparathyroidism, increase the risk of calcium stones. High levels of oxalate also increase the risk for calcium stones.

Certain medicines may prevent calcium stones.

Uric acid stones

About 5% to 10% of kidney stones are made of uric acid, a waste product normally passed out of the body in the urine.1 You are more likely to have uric acid stones if you have:

Certain medicines may prevent or dissolve uric acid stones.

Struvite stones

About 10% to 15% of kidney stones are struvite stones.1 They can also be called infection stones if they occur with kidney or urinary tract infections (UTIs). These types of kidney stones sometimes are also called staghorn calculi if they grow large enough.

Struvite stones can be serious because they are often large stones and may occur with an infection. Medical treatment, including antibiotics and removal of the stone, is usually needed for struvite stones. Women are affected more than men because of their higher risk of urinary tract infections.

Cystine stones

Less than 1% of kidney stones are made of a chemical called cystine.1 Cystine stones are more likely to develop in families with a condition that results in too much cystine in the urine (cystinuria).

Cystine stones may be prevented or dissolved with medicine, but this may be difficult and not very effective. If the stones cause blockage in the urinary tract or are too large, then removal of the stone will be needed.

Citations

  1. Parmar MS (2004). Kidney stones. BMJ, 328(7453): 1420–1424.

Last Updated: May 4, 2009

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