Kidney Stone & Ureter Problem Terminology

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  • 0:05 The Urinary Tract
  • 0:58 Stones in the Tract
  • 3:39 Problems with the…
  • 5:08 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Adrianne Baron

Adrianne has a master's degree in cancer biology and has taught high school and college biology.

This lesson will look at some of the basic problems that can occur with kidney stones. We will also discuss what can go wrong with the ureters of the urinary tract.

The Urinary Tract

The urinary tract is a closed system of organs that is responsible for forming urine by filtering wastes and excess water and electrolytes from the blood. The system usually does what it is supposed to do without any issues or problems arising. You already know this since you find yourself having to urinate regularly through the day each day. Your urine is a normal color and flows out as it is supposed to.

There are some things that can go wrong with this system though. If you have ever experienced any problems in your urinary tract before, then you know all too well the pain that can occur. Something else you should know is that a problem in one area of the urinary tract will cause problems to occur in other parts of the tract.

Our urinary tract starts with the kidneys and then goes to the ureters, bladder and urethra. The tract ends at the exit, or urinary meatus. Now that we know the structures of the urinary system, we are going to look at a few problems that can happen.

Stones in the Tract

One possible cause of problems in the urinary tract is the presence of stones in the tract. These are deposits of calcium and other minerals that build up and crystallize. The name of the conditions of having stones is different, and the symptoms may vary slightly depending on where in the tract the stones are located.

The condition of stones in the kidneys may be called nephrolithiasis or renal calculi. You will see these used interchangeably for kidney stones. The actual kidney stone is called a nephrolith. Some symptoms of nephrolithiasis include pain, bloody urine and distention of the kidney known as nephrectasis. The nephrectasis is seen due to the retention of fluid in the kidneys called hydronephrosis. Once this occurs, the urine has a very difficult time flowing through the rest of the system to be excreted from the body.

It is possible that a kidney stone may become dislodged and start to move on to the next part of the urinary tract, which is the ureters. A stone in the ureter is called a ureterolith and causes the condition of kidney stones in the ureters that we refer to as ureterolithiasis. This condition may cause bloody urine, decreased urination and pain. The stone may get stuck in the ureters, or it may continue to move through the tract. If it does get stuck, then distention of the ureters called ureterectasis may occur. Hydroureter is another symptom seen in this condition. This is when fluid is retained in the ureters.

If it continues through the tract, then it will end up being a stone in the bladder, which is called a cystolith. We call the condition of having stones in the bladder cystolithiasis or vesicolithiasis. There are times when the stone may form in the bladder itself rather than the kidneys. The symptoms that a person may experience with cystolithiasis are stomach pain, difficulty urinating and bloody urine.

You may be wondering if the stone can also form or get stuck in the urethra. Well this is a rare occurrence, but it is possible. If it occurs, then the stone in the urethra is known as a urethrolith, and the condition of stones in the urethra is known as urethrolithiasis. This condition is more likely to happen in males than in females due to the fact that the urethra is longer in males, and therefore, there is more space for stones to get stuck. It is very likely the stone will be excreted in the urine at this point. Some symptoms that may be seen with this condition are painful urination and bloody urine.

Problems with the Kidneys and Ureters

Those stones can really wreak some havoc in the urinary tract! That's not all that can go wrong in the urinary tract though. There is more.

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