Bladder Stones

Bladder stones form when minerals in urine (pee) crystalize and clump together in the bladder. The medical term for bladder stones is bladder calculi. Bladder stones generally develop when some urine stays in the bladder after you pee. Without treatment, stones can cause infections, bleeding and long-term problems in the urinary tract.

Causes of Bladder Stones

Augmentation cystoplasty

During an augmentation cystoplasty (bladder augmentation) procedure, providers use tissue from the bowel to make the bladder larger and improve the way it works. Sometimes the procedure can cause pee to pool in the bladder.

Bladder diverticula

Pouches or pockets in the bladder make it hard to empty the bladder completely. This condition can occur at birth or it can develop later in life as a result of disease or an enlarged prostate.


Water dilutes the minerals in urine and flushes out the bladder. Dehydration (not drinking enough fluids) can lead to bladder stones because minerals build up in concentrated urine.

Enlarged prostate

The prostate can get bigger as men age, which puts pressure on the urethra (the tube that carries pee from the kidneys to the bladder). The extra pressure can make it difficult to empty the bladder completely.

Fallen bladder

Some women develop a condition called cystocele after childbirth. Weakened walls of the bladder fall into the vagina and block the flow of urine.

Kidney stones

Bladder stones are similar to kidney stones. Sometimes a kidney stone can travel from your kidney into your bladder. Usually if the stone can pass into the bladder, it can easily be urinated out of the bladder. Very rarely, in patients who have trouble urinating, the stone can get stuck and get bigger inside the bladder and cause pain and difficulty urinating.

Neurogenic bladder

Nerve damage from a spinal cord injury, stroke, other disease disease or congenital abnormality (such as spina bifida) can affect how the bladder works. People with neurogenic bladder often need a catheter (a thin, flexible tube) to drain the bladder. Sometimes catheters can’t drain all of the urine.

Symptoms of Bladder Stones

Changes in urine color

You may have cloudy or dark urine, or you may see blood in your urine.

Frequent need to urinate

You may feel like you always need to pee, even if you just went.


With bladder stones, it’s common to feel pain or burning when urinating. You may also feel pain that comes and goes in the lower part of the abdomen (belly). Men sometimes feel pain in the penis or testicles.

Stopping and starting

You may have a difficult time starting the flow of urine, even if you really have to go. Sometimes the urine stream stops and starts (urinary intermittency).

Urinary tract infections

Bladder stones can lead to infections of the urinary tract (UTIs). UTI symptoms include frequent, painful urination as well as cloudy, smelly urine.

Diagnosis of Bladder Stones

Urine test

Your provider sends a sample of your urine to a lab to check for small bladder stones. The lab will also test your urine for signs of a urinary tract infection or blood.

Imaging tests

Computed tomography (CT) scans, X-ray and ultrasound images allow your provider to see clear pictures of your bladder. These tests show the size, shape and location of bladder stones.


During this procedure, your provider uses a small scope to look inside your bladder and check for stones. The scope is thin and flexible, with a camera on the end.

Treatment of Bladder Stones

Treatment for bladder stones includes:


During a cystolitholapaxy, providers use a scope to visualize the stones in the bladder and then break bladder stones into tiny pieces using lasers or ultrasound (high-frequency sound waves). The pieces are then removed from the bladder.


If the stones are especially large, you may need open surgery to remove them. Your provider makes an incision in your abdomen and takes out the stones.

diseases treatments health prevention disorders bladder-stones excretory-system

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