Bladder stones can block your urine flow, causing pain and other issues
By Christa Sgobba / Featured Image Courtesy Of The New England Journal Of Medicine
For three days, a 64-year-old man from California was experiencing pain in his left flank and urinary retention, meaning he wasn’t able to completely empty his bladder.
He visited the emergency room, where doctors performed a CT scan of his pelvis and abdomen, as the case report published in The New England Journal of Medicine detailed. They discovered a small stone that was obstructing his left ureter—the tube which carries urine from your kidney to your bladder—and a much larger, egg-shaped stone in his bladder.
How big was the bladder stone? When doctors removed it, they discovered it measured 11.9 x 9.4 x 7.6 centimetres—the size of the doctor’s hand—and weighed a whopping 800 grams. That’s more than 10 jumbo-sized chicken eggs that you’d buy in the shops.
Bladder stones, or the hard build-up of minerals like calcium or phosphate—develop when minerals in urine crystalize, which can occur if you’re unable to completely empty your bladder. If the stone irritates the wall of your bladder or blocks the flow of your urine, it could cause problems like abdominal pain, pain in your penis or testicles, burning while urinating, frequent urination, difficulty urinating, blood in your urine, or cloudy or dark urine, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Men are at higher risk of developing bladder stones than women are, and there are a few things that can further up your risk, too. For instance, having an enlarged prostate can obstruct your urine flow, preventing you from completely emptying your bladder. Bladder inflammation, like from urinary infections, may play a role, too.
But the California man likely had a different cause: More than a decade prior to his ER visit, doctors removed his bladder as part of his treatment for invasive bladder cancer. They constructed a new bladder for him—called a neobladder—out of pieces of his intestines.
Using intestines for the bladder can lead to stone disease, the authors write. That’s because some effects of the neobladder can include diminishment or stoppage of urine flow, or the production of mucus, both of which can raise the risk of stones.
If you notice the symptoms listed above, call your doctor. Some bladder stones pass without treatment, but others require medication or surgery.
Originally published on menshealth.com