Solutions for Kidney Stones

St. Joseph’s has opened a multidisciplinary kidney stone prevention clinic—the first of its kind in Canada 

The excruciating pain has often been compared to childbirth, and at some point in his or her life one in 10 Canadians will experience it: a kidney stone.

St. Joseph’s urologist Dr. Hassan Razvi and patient Stacey O’Neill review diagnostic imaging scans of her kidneys.
St. Joseph’s urologist Dr. Hassan Razvi and patient Stacey O’Neill review diagnostic imaging scans of her kidneys.

Stacey O'NeillStacey O’Neill had her first kidney stone when she was just 18. She has since suffered numerous stones and endured surgeries to remove them. “I’ve had so many stones I’ve lost count,” says the now 30-year-old.

Like Stacey, about 50 per cent of individuals who develop stones will have more than one, which can indicate more serious health problems. “If a patient has multiple kidney stones, or they form certain types of stones, this could mean they have an underlying problem with their diet or body metabolism,” explains Dr. Hassan Razvi, Chair/Chief of the Urology Centre at St. Joseph’s Hospital in London.

To treat patients with recurring stones, Dr. Razvi and his multidisciplinary team at St. Joseph’s have established a kidney stone prevention clinic, the first of its kind in Canada. Through the clinic, patients are assessed in a single appointment by a nephrologist—a specialist with expertise in medical conditions that affect the kidneys—a urologist for surgical and treatment consultation, and a registered dietitian.

“Most kidney stones can be prevented through a combination of medication, diet, fluid intake and other lifestyle changes,” says Dr. Razvi. “Prevention and treatment plans are determined based on the cause and type of stones.” Patients are also evaluated on their medical and diet history, blood tests, and urine samples taken over a 24-hour period. If medication can play a role in prevention for a patient, nephrologist Dr. Nabil Sultan selects the best option and monitors its effectiveness.

For Stacey, medication has helped decrease the frequency of kidney stones, letting her lead a “more normal” life. The clinic has also improved her outlook. “Dr. Razvi and his team have been very supportive and have helped me learn to deal with my illness.”

St. Joseph’s has a long history of innovative advances in the treatment and diagnosis of kidney stones. In 1990 St. Joseph’s became the second hospital in Ontario to offer shock wave lithotripsy, a noninvasive way to break up kidney stones. In 1993, St. Joseph’s urologists were the first to treat a human for kidney stones using a holmium laser, a treatment now used around the world.

Close up look at a kidney stone

“St. Joseph’s treats a large number of patients for kidney stones, many of them complex cases, and we recognized a great need for a comprehensive prevention clinic,” says Dr. Razvi. “As an academic teaching hospital this clinic also provides opportunities for future research into the causes of kidney stones and potentially new treatments.”

measuring kidney stones

Kidney stone symptoms can include:

  • blood in the urine
  • urinary tract infections
  • nausea and vomiting
  • severe pain in the back or lower abdomen
Some stones may have no symptoms and are only diagnosed through diagnostic imaging.
“St. Joseph’s treats a large number of patients for kidney stones, many of them complex cases, and we recognized a great need for a comprehensive prevention clinic.”