Bladder Stones : Know The Causes, Prevention And Treatment


Hard masses of minerals in your bladder are known as bladder stones. The minerals in concentrated urine solidify and form stones, which is how they form. When your bladder doesn't drain entirely, this frequently occurs.

Small bladder stones may dissolve on their own, while larger bladder stones can require medicine or surgery. Bladder stones can cause infections and other problems if they are not treated.

Causes Of Bladder Stones 

Bladder stones are most frequently caused by the following conditions:

The usual cause of this in males is having an enlarged prostate gland that restricts urine flow. Bladder stones can form in men who have BPH, or benign prostatic hyperplasia.

Bladder stones may also be caused by another condition that is referred to as neurogenic bladder.  Normally, nerves send orders from your brain to your bladder muscles, telling them to contract or relax. Your bladder might not empty entirely if these nerves are injured due to a stroke, spinal cord injury, or another medical condition. 

Most patients who have a neurogenic bladder require the insertion of a catheter—a tube—to drain their bladders of urine. Urinary catheterization is the term for this procedure. Although a catheter is generally efficient, it frequently leaves a tiny amount of urine in the bladder, which can cause bladder stones to develop.  The same is true for anything that unintentionally moves to your bladder, like a urinary stent or a contraceptive device. On the surfaces of these objects, minerals tend to crystallize and eventually turn into stones.

Bladder stones may result from some infections. Bladder stone formation can occasionally be caused by an underlying ailment that impairs the bladder's capacity to contain, store, or remove urine. Foreign items that are already inside the bladder can produce bladder stones.

Another potential cause of bladder stones is kidney stones. Stones that develop in your kidneys are distinct from bladder stones. Their growth takes numerous forms. However, little kidney stones can pass through the ureters into your bladder and, if they are not passed out, can develop into bladder stones.

Bladder inflammation can also result in bladder stones and is occasionally brought on by UTIs or radiation therapy to the pelvis.

Cystoceles may also cause bladder stones. Women are more likely to develop a cystocele, which happens when the bladder wall weakens and descends into the vagina. This might also be referred to as a bladder prolapse. This might prevent urine from leaving the bladder. When a person is under a lot of strain, such as during childbirth or heavy lifting, or when they are constipated and, on the toilet, a cystocele may form.

Bladder diverticula in the bladder's wall are pouches that form over time. It may be challenging to completely empty one's bladder if the diverticula enlarge. There may be bladder diverticula at birth or as a result of an infection or enlarged prostate and this can also be a cause of bladder stones.

Bladder augmentation surgery which may successfully treat urine or urge incontinence can occasionally contribute to the development of bladder stones. 

Risk Factors

Bladder stones are more common in men, particularly those over 50.

The following conditions and situations can increase the incidence of bladder stones:

  • An impediment can increase the risk of getting bladder stones as bladder stone formation can be caused by any ailment that prevents the passage of urine from your bladder to the urethra, which is the tube that transports urine out of your body. 
  • The most frequent cause, while there are others, is an enlarged prostate.
  • Another condition that can further the risk of bladder stones includes nerve harm or any damage to the nerves. The nerves that regulate bladder function can be harmed by a number of conditions, including stroke, spinal cord injuries, Parkinson's disease, diabetes, a herniated disc, and others.
  • It is conceivable to have both nerve injury and disease that obstructs the bladder outflow. When these are present together, the danger of stones is significantly increased.

Bladder Stone Symptoms

If bladder stones are small enough to flow out of the bladder when you urinate, they might not even create any symptoms. Even huge bladder stones can occasionally cause no issues. 

However, because the stones either irritate the bladder wall or obstruct the passage of urine, the majority of people with bladder stones do suffer symptoms and bladder stone symptoms frequently include:

  • Pain in the lower abdomen which is frequently very intense (men, in particular, may also have pain in or around their penis)
  • Lower-back discomfort
  • Discomfort or trouble during urination or a break in the flow of urine 
  • Urinating more often (a tendency for this occurs at night) 
  • Urine with blood in it
  • Urine that is cloudy or especially dark in colour 

Bladder Stones Prevention

If you previously experienced bladder stones, they may return. You can take steps to try to stop this from happening. Bladder stones are typically brought on by underlying conditions that are difficult to prevent, however you can lower your risk by taking the following steps. 

  • One step that can be taken is to regularly empty your bladder without waiting to urinate again. 
  • A person might also try to lower the concentration of their urine by increasing their daily fluid intake to 2 to 3 litres. As fluids reduce the concentration of minerals in your bladder, drinking more fluids, especially water, may help prevent bladder stones. 
  • If someone is unable to completely empty their bladder on the first try, they should try again 10 to 20 seconds later. This is known as double voiding and helps the bladder empty more effectively and prevents constipation (regular laxatives may also be recommended). 

Inform a physician of any odd urine symptoms. An individual’s chance of acquiring bladder stones may be lower if they get an enlarged prostate or another urologic issue treated quickly.

Bladder Stone Treatments

Lots of water consumption may aid in the natural passage of a tiny stone. However, since bladder stones are sometimes brought on by a problem completely emptying your bladder, drinking more water might not be sufficient to dissolve the stone.

Often, a person will need to get the stones removed. There are various methods for doing this.

One method of getting rid of bladder stones is cystolitholapaxy, and this starts with giving the patient a numbing medicine or general anaesthetic to render them unconscious first. This procedure involves using a tiny tube (cystoscope) with a camera at the end to locate the bladder stones. The stone is then broken into tiny pieces by a laser, ultrasound, or another tool before being flushed from the bladder and removed.

You might be given antibiotics as a preventative measure as the surgery carries a small risk of infection. Additionally, there is little possibility of bladder damage from this treatment.

Sometimes bladder stones are too big or difficult to remove. In some situations, your doctor will operate to remove the bladder stones.

When a man has a very large prostate or if the stone itself is particularly large, an open cystostomy is frequently performed to remove the bladder stone. This requires a much bigger incision is made in the abdomen and bladder.

It may be combined with other surgical procedures, such as removing all or part of the diverticula in the bladder or prostate (pouches that develop in the lining of the bladder).

The drawback of an open cystostomy is that it takes longer to heal and results in more discomfort than other surgical procedures. But if the bladder stone is substantial, an open cystostomy will be required.

A third treatment that is available for bladder stones is percutaneous suprapubic cystolitholapaxy. This is used with children who are typically treated to protect their urethra. Large bladder stones in adults are another situation when this procedure may be utilized. The surgeon creates a tiny cut in the lower abdomen's skin rather than placing a tube into the urethra. The bladder is then sliced once again in order to remove the stones. Anaesthesia will be administered as part of this.

It is also important to consider the underlying causes of bladder stones, like the ones set out above, because they should, whenever feasible, be treated in order to stop the development of more stones.

Complications of Bladder Stones 

Even if bladder stones do not create symptoms, those that pass through the urinary tract might cause complications.

One complication is persistent urinary issues. Untreated bladder stones might result in chronic urinary problems like pain or frequent urination. The passageway where urine leaves the bladder and enters the urethra might get blocked by bladder stones, which will prevent urine from passing through.

Another complication is to do with infections of the urinary system. Bladder stones could be to blame for recurrent bacterial infections in your urinary tract.


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Page last reviewed: Mar 14, 2023

Next review due: Mar 14, 2025

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