Kidney Stones in Children

What is a kidney stone?

While kidney stones are still relatively uncommon in children, the number of cases is growing. Kidney stones are small, hard deposits of mineral and acid salts formed within the urinary tract, which can obstruct the drainage of urine and may cause intense pain and some children may have nausea and vomiting.

There are many different kinds of stones, with calcium oxalate and calcium phosphate stones being most common. There are other less common types of kidney stones.

Most of the time, stones are found in the kidney or ureter (the tube that connects the kidney with the bladder). Many stones pass all by themselves, without treatment; others will need to be removed, which can often be done using a noninvasive method.

How we care for kidney stones

Boston Children’s has established a pediatric Kidney Stone Program, because more and more children are developing kidney stones. We see children who’ve had kidney stones and those who are at risk for developing them.

Your child will see both a pediatric urologist and a pediatric nephrologists at the same appointment. This multidisciplinary approach allows for direct collaboration between the two specialists to optimize your child’s care and work together to develop a treatment plan — in real time.

We can treat stones in several ways, depending on the size, location, number and composition of the stones. In nearly all children, we can treat these stones with noninvasive or minimally invasive surgical techniques; in rare instances, we can use robotic surgery techniques to remove the stones.

The best treatment is prevention. Your child will receive a metabolic evaluation to determine if he or she has risk factors for future kidney stones. We then prescribe individualized treatment plans to prevent new stones from forming, and monitor your child with urine and blood tests and sometimes ultrasound exams.