Stones may form in the bladder when the bladder is not emptied completely. This can be due to nerve damage that impairs a patient’s ability to urinate, recurrent urinary tract infections, or an enlarged prostate. The resulting stones may or may not be associated with symptoms, including blood in urine, pain with urination, weakened urinary stream, or abdominal pain. Small stones can pass on their own, especially with increased water consumption, but left unattended, they may grow large enough to block the flow of urine, leading to infection or pain.
Bladder stones can be removed in a variety of manners, from open surgery to minimally invasive endoscopic procedures. UCSF urologists are expert in minimally invasive methods of bladder stone removal during which the stones are first located by inserting a small camera through the urethra. Stones are then broken apart using a laser, ultrasound or other mechanical device. Once broken into smaller pieces, they can be more easily removed, rending the patient stone free.