Pediatric kidney stones: Treatment, education and prevention

Children aren't just little adults. When they have kidney stones, they need a specialist who knows exactly how to work with kids. UW Health Kids Urology and Nephrology (kidney) experts have experience in all phases of childhood kidney stone care. From diagnosis and treatment to education and prevention, we are here for you.


Our approach to kidney stone care for kids

Kidney stones are small clumps of material that form in the kidney.

They’re made of calcium or other substances found in urine. Not all kidney stones need treatment. But larger stones can get stuck in the urinary tract. The stones can block urine flow and cause pain or bleeding.

Through our UW Health Kids Kidney Stone Clinic, we offer nonsurgical and advanced surgical treatments. Minimally invasive surgeries reduce recovery time and scarring. We also work to find the cause of your child’s kidney stones. Often an underlying medical condition is to blame. In all cases, we educate children and their families to help prevent future problems.

Meet our team

Expertise to put you and your child at ease

Our experts

  • Nephrologists: They specialize in kidney function and kidney diseases. They check for metabolic problems that might cause kidney stones.

  • Urologists: They focus on problems of the urinary tract. They help evaluate treatments, including surgical options.

  • Registered dietitians: They help discover eating patterns that could contribute to kidney stones. They also develop an eating plan to help prevent new kidney stones in the future.

Our providers

Treatments and research

Easing your child’s symptoms

Treatment options

Lithotripsy delivers shock waves to kidney stones from outside the body. The waves break the stone into tiny pieces that can pass through the urinary tract on their own. Children have this procedure under anesthesia, usually on an outpatient basis.

Cystoscopy and ureteroscopy are also outpatient procedures done while your child is under anesthesia. 

Cystoscopy involves passing a thin tube with a lens on the end through your child’s urethra. The urethra is the duct that carries urine from the bladder outside the body. The procedure allows doctors to look at the urethra and bladder. Ureteroscopy is a similar procedure that allows doctors to see the kidney and the lining of the ducts that carry urine from the kidney to the bladder. 

Once doctors find the stone during these procedures, they can remove them or break them into smaller pieces.

Percutaneous nephrolithotomy involves passing a tool called a nephroscope through a small cut in your child’s back. The device goes directly into the kidney. Doctors can then remove the stone or break it into smaller pieces with a laser.

Once your child has a kidney stone, more are likely to develop. An important part of treatment is to try to prevent them. 

When we remove a stone, we study it. Learning what it’s made of guides our prevention efforts. Our team uses the information to help you change your child’s eating and drinking habits. Sometimes we recommend medicine, as well.

Smiling child with sign reading UW Health Kids
UW Health Kids
Our pediatric experts have served the special needs of children for more than 100 years. We focus on each child’s unique needs and offer social and emotional support to help you and your child face even the most complex condition. Our long history includes the creation of medical advances that save lives around the world. Together, we get your child back to health and enjoying being a kid.


We’re here for you and your child

The UW Health Kids Kidney Stone Clinic is located at American Family Children’s Hospital in Madison.

Patient support and services

More information about kidney stones


These resources can help you learn more about kidney stones and their treatments:

Excellent care every step of the way

UW Health Kids Urology experts understand the stress and awkward situations that can arise when your child needs urologic care. It's a sensitive issue, so we provide the information you need to make informed decisions about your child's care. Together, we take excellent care of your child every step of the way.

Pediatric urology