Enhancing Quality of Life Through Urology Research

UW Health urology researcherThe University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Urology faculty and staff includes doctors, scientists and other health care professionals.


They work closely together and with clinical basic science researchers from many University of Wisconsin departments and collaborate with urology research investigators nationwide to gather new and important information.


As of 2009, the Urology Department has more than 40 active clinical trials and basic science research studies. UW Urology offers many opportunities for patients to participate in clinical research studies each year. Researchers discover new knowledge from these studies that help clinicians provide better health care for their patients.


Ground-breaking therapies, procedures and innovative thinking for managing care and living healthy daily lives come into being as a direct outcome of the many research volunteer participants in clinical trial research studies.


Kristina Penniston, PhD, RD is conducting studies to assess the efficiency of nutritional and medical management therapies to improve quality of life for patients suffering recurring kidney stones. Dr. Penniston is considered a national leader in nutritional therapies for kidney stones. She collaborates with epidemiologic and basic science researchers at UW-Madison, Marshfield Clinic, the Medical College of Wisconsin and researchers from outside Wisconsin on various aspects of kidney stone disease, specifically regarding preventive management and quality of life measures.


In collaboration with pharmaceutical sciences, UW Urology conducts physiology studies with respect to the pain and passage of kidney stones. Research in mechanisms of cellular inflammation in the urinary tract are another focus of the stone program. The lab cultures urothelial cells and stretches them to better understand the mechanisms of stretch injury from obstructing stones and the body's response to these changes. This work will lead to better treatments to assist in passage and pain from kidney stones.


Lemonade and Kidney Stones


One of the studies, on the use of lemonade to prevent recurrence of kidney stones, has received attention in the lay press. The science behind the theory is that the juices of citrus fruits are rich in citric acid.


When consumed in high amounts, citric acid is excreted in the urine as citrate. Citrate inhibits the growth of calcium kidney stones by complexing with calcium and making it unavailable to bind with oxalate or phosphate to form stones.


UW Urology researchers have suggested that a patient may be advised to drink up to 32 ounces per day of a low-sugar, low-calorie lemonade, limeade or other fruit juice rich in citric acid. The therapeutic target for urinary citrate excretion of 600 mg or more in a 24-hour period is usually considered adequate to help prevent calcium kidney stones.


Read more: Lemonade Versus Kidney Stones


Dietary Changes to Reduce Kidney Stones


Did you know that patients suffering from kidney stones may reduce the number of their stone events by making dietary changes?

  • By optimizing your calcium intake from foods (and supplements, if needed), you may actually reduce your risk for calcium oxalate stones
  • Reducing your intake of salt reduces the amount of calcium "wasted" in your urine and, hence, calcium that is available to form kidney stones
  • Fruits and vegetables provide many stone inhibitors, including potassium, magnesium, fiber, phytate, citric acid, prebiotics and antioxidants. Five servings a day are recommended.