Kidney Stone Size Not the Main Problem

When people think of kidney stones, they often believe that the threat of a kidney stone in regards to pain comes from its size. This belief is not entirely correct. The reality is that the size of a kidney stone does not always matter. Maluf says that a small kidney stone can cause incredible pain. The microscopic texture of a kidney stone is one of the biggest factors in regards to the level of pain.

This week, a Reddit user found old 2012 photos published on the blog of Eastfield College Scanning Electron Microscope Lab Coordinator Murray Gans that show why the shape of a kidney stone causes so much trouble.

Kidney stones are made of uric acid and calcium deposits that do not break down during the normal urinary processes. Both types of deposits are crystalline in structure. As a result, a kidney stone is made up of hundreds of microscopic, angular edges that are extremely sharp. As a stone moves through the urinary tract, it literally cuts into the tissue. In some cases, the stone can actually cut off microscopic pieces of tissue that are then passed along with it.

Of course, the size of the stone does matter: A large stone can cause more damage. It is also harder to pass and a kidney stone sufferer may have to ask a doctor to use shockwave treatment to break the stone up into smaller pieces.

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