A bladder stone is a hard-crystallised mineral in your urine that forms in your bladder as a result of the concentration of urine. This usually occurs when you are unable to completely empty your bladder and urine stagnates. Bladder stones may result from prostate gland enlargement, damaged nerves that cause urine retention, kidney stones that may travel and get lodged in the bladder, inflammation or certain devices such as bladder catheters used to empty the bladder. Stones are more frequent in older men but can occur in younger men as well.
A stone in the bladder may not produce any symptoms even if large, unless it damages or irritates the bladder wall or obstructs the flow of urine. Symptoms include lower abdominal pain, painful and difficult urination, penile pain, and bloody or cloudy urine. Left untreated, a bladder stone may result in urinary tract infection and long-term difficulty with urination.
Your doctor may discover an asymptomatic bladder stone incidentally on an imaging study performed for another condition. When you present with symptoms of a bladder stone, your doctor will perform a thorough physical examination and examine your bladder and prostate for enlargement. Your urine is examined for infection, blood and crystallised minerals. Imaging studies such as a CT or X-ray are ordered to visualise the stone.
If the stone is small, your doctor will recommend increasing your fluid intake to help pass the stone out through the urine. For larger stones, your doctor may perform a procedure called transurethral cystolitholapaxy where a cystoscope (a small tube with a camera at the end) is inserted into the urethra (the tube that passes urine out of your body) and advanced into the bladder to get a better view of the bladder stone. The stones are then broken into small particles by ultrasound waves or laser and washed out of the bladder with fluids. For more complicated stones, an open surgery may be necessary in which the stone is removed through an incision in your bladder while correcting any underlying conditions.