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NEED ADVICE - best test for kidney stones

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Old 01-12-2012, 02:01 PM   #1
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Somewhere, Maryland
Posts: 3
AmandaInMarylan HB User
NEED ADVICE - best test for kidney stones

Hi everyone,

So I am in really bad pain - and my gut feeling is that it's a kidney stone. I
had one 2 years ago when I was pregnant and I remember WELL what it was like.
This feels the same (and nausea is starting to set in). I did have an ultrasound about 4 months ago for the same pain and it showed nothing.

BUT my doc doesn't think it's a stone because it doesn't seem to be on one side (and the ultrasound didn't show one).

So she has ordered the following tests:

Lumbar MRI with contrast
Thoracic MRI with contrast
kidney/bladder ultrasound
Xray of lumbar spine
Xray of thoracic spine

I googled and found that none of these is the first test of choice for detecting
a stone. I'd like to first get the ONE most likely to pickup a stone (because I
have to pay out of pocket). Then if that test picks up something, I can just forego the others. Does anyone have an "unofficial" opinion on which
test will be best to get first? Sure would be nice
if an xray would pick it up! But if an MRI will DEFINITELY pick it up and the others are not likely, then maybe I'm better off just getting the MRI.

Thanks very much for any advice.
Amanda in Maryland

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Old 01-12-2012, 06:46 PM   #2
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Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Salt Lake City, UT, USA
Posts: 14
wipedout HB User
Re: NEED ADVICE - best test for kidney stones


First, if you think you have kidney stones, you should be straining your urine. In other words, all urine should flow through a strainer since that way, if you pass a stone, you would be able to save it and it could be analyzed as to its composition. Second, I just Googled the subject of diagnostics for kidney stones, and Cornell Urology says that a plain abdominal x-ray (KUB: kidneys, ureters, and bladder) is the first thing to be done - that 90% of the stones will be identified on it. X-rays are way cheaper than MRIs or CT scans!! A noncontrast spiral CT scan is also good to identify kidney stones (but costs more than just x-rays though possibly less than MRI). Ultrasound could also be used and is cheaper, but doesn't show the ureters very well. Find out the costs of the different tests before you sign up for them! Basically, x-rays and sonograms are cheaper and may be enough for you.

Old 01-14-2012, 12:36 AM   #3
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Minnesota
Posts: 4
jessem166 HB User
Re: NEED ADVICE - best test for kidney stones

When I first started having my pain they gave me an xray which showed nothing. I then had an ultrasound which spotted 1 Kidney stone. After that they had me get a CT scan which showed multiple stones. A CT scan without contrast I'd say is the best way to detect stones. It shows their size and location. I believe an MRI could pick them up to, but in my experience the best bet is a CT scan. It gives the best visual. Then again, I have great health insurance which covers a lot of the tests I have had done. Check and see what yours covers first. But, I'd say request a CT scan

Old 01-14-2012, 12:39 AM   #4
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Minnesota
Posts: 4
jessem166 HB User
Re: NEED ADVICE - best test for kidney stones

"First, if you think you have kidney stones, you should be straining your urine."

I couldn't agree more. This way if you pass a stone, It can be sent to the lab for tests. That way they can see what the stone is made of, and how to prevent it.

Last edited by jessem166; 01-14-2012 at 12:39 AM.

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