Pediatric Kidney Stones

Also known as: nephrolithiasis.

What are kidney stones?

A kidney stone is a solid, hard, pebble-like object that forms in a child’s kidneys when normal urine substances (like calcium, oxalates, magnesium, and phosphorus) become very concentrated.

There are 4 main types of kidney stones; those containing primarily calcium, cysteine, uric acid or struvite.

What causes kidney stones?

A number of factors may be involved, these include:

  • a family history of kidney stones
  • dehydration from decreased fluid intake
  • diets high in sodium or protein
  • repeated urinary tract infections
  • obesity
  • abnormalities of the urinary tract
  • inactivity
  • some medications.

Certain medical conditions (like inflammatory bowel disease or cystic fibrosis or a neurogenic bladder) may all increase the likelihood of kidney stones developing.

What are the signs/symptoms of kidney stones?

Small stones may be passed without any symptoms. Larger kidney stones are primarily known for causing severe pain in the back, side or lower abdomen, or groin. Common signs/symptoms also include:

  • Blood in the urine
  • Symptoms associated with recurrent urinary tract infections
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Frequent/urgent urination
  • Fever
  • Chills

What are kidney stones treatment options?

Treatment depends on the size of the stone(s), what it’s made of, and whether it/they block the flow of urine.

Smaller stones may pass on their own with just pain medication and by drinking lots of fluids.

Large stones may need hospitalization, lithotripsy (shock waves to crush the stones), stents to open blockages, tubes to drain the urine (nephrostomy tube) and/or surgical removal.

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: May 22, 2023 10:46 AM


The Division of Nephrology at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital treats kidney disorders and provides comprehensive evaluation of renal functions, including kidney biopsies.

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