Bladder Stones: How are they Diagnosed?
We see patients from all parts of New York City (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, Staten Island), Long Island, Westchester and New Jersey as well as other parts of the USA. We also see international patients from Canada, Japan, South America, Russia, Asia, Europe, Middle East, Africa, the Caribbean and other parts of the world.
How are Bladder Stones Diagnosed?
Diagnosis of bladder stones cannot be established through history or physical examination. Symptoms of bladder stones are not unique to bladder stones and can be caused by many other conditions including UTI, bladder cancer, overactive bladder, blood in urine, kidney stones and enlarged prostate as well as prostate cancer in men.
In men, physical examination for men with urinary symptoms suggestive of bladder stones includes an examination of the lower abdomen for bladder distension and digital rectal examination for prostatic enlargement. Blood tests including kidney function tests and PSA test may be ordered.
Most commonly bladder stones are diagnosed using pelvic ultrasound or during cystoscopy procedure performed to evaluate the cause of urinary symptoms and blood in urine.
Sometimes bladder stones are diagnosed incidentally on CT scan of abdomen and pelvis performed because of abdominal or pelvic pain or blood in urine.
Common Tests Performed to Diagnose Bladder Stones
- Pelvic Ultrasound: Ultrasound offers a reliable way to diagnose bladder stones and also provides valuable information regarding size, site, and a number of calculi.
- Spiral CT Scan: Spiral CT-scan delivers quick results with high-definition visualization of internal structures. It is the most sensitive method for imaging small-sized stones.
- X-ray Kidney, Ureter, Bladder (KUB): Although popular as a standard diagnostic procedure, the KUB test is considered less sensitive at detecting small stones. In addition, some stones with less common composition may not be visible with conventional x-rays.
- Intravenous Pyelogram: Serial x-rays of the urinary tract can be taken after intravenously injected contrast material to visualize stones. This test is no longer performed as it is less reliable and better tests are available.
Additional tests are usually performed including:
- Urine routine examination or Urinalysis: Urine sample can be analyzed chemically and microscopically for blood, bacteria, and minerals. Urinary culture is performed to detect infection which often co-exists with bladder stones.
Dr. Alex Shteynshlyuger is a board-certified urologist in NYC who specializes in treating men and women with urinary problems including frequent urination, difficulty emptying the bladder, urinary urgency and incontinence.