Kidney Stone Diagnosis

For Patients

If you suspect you have stones, visit your primary care provider or urologist.

If you've been diagnosed with stones and would like to be seen in the Metabolic Stone Clinic, please call (608) 263-4757.

The presence of kidney stones is confirmed with imaging studies. The following imaging study techniques may be called upon during diagnosis: 
  • KUB (Kidney, ureters, bladder) X-ray: A KUB is a quick, inexpensive, and usually helpful imaging study for the confirmation of urinary stones. KUB can locate many stones, and when an individual is known to have stones in his or her kidney, the KUB is often used over time to compare and track the progress of the stones. Some smaller stones may not be detected by KUB, necessitating other study techniques.
  • IVP (intravenous pyelogram): This test is usually considered when an obstructing stone is suspected or when kidney function is thought to be compromised. In an IVP, a harmless dye is injected into a vein. X-rays of the abdominal region are then taken to see how quickly the kidneys excrete the dye into the urine.
  • Ultrasound: The most commonly used imaging study, ultrasound requires no X-ray exposure or special preparation. A renal ultrasound shows the details of the kidneys and bladder. It can rule out or diagnose obstructions, developmental abnormalities, tumors and stones in the kidneys and entire urinary tract.
  • CT (computed tomography) scan: CT scans are helpful in revealing the anatomy of the kidneys or bladder and, in some cases, is better than ultrasound for finding kidney stones. A CT scan can show the anatomy of the kidneys and detect if the flow of urine is blocked by a stone.
Non-imaging studies
In addition to imaging studies, blood work and urine samples may be needed in order to check for the presence of infection, hematuria (blood in the urine) and high concentrations of certain compounds that may form the basis for stones. However, the definitive presence of kidney stones is diagnosed with imaging studies as detailed above.