How are bladder stones diagnosed?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

Your doctor will need to perform a physical exam to diagnose bladder stones. Your doctor may palpitate your lower abdomen to check for swelling and pain, and might check for enlarged prostate via a rectal exam. A urinalysis can tell your doctor if you have a bladder infection, or if there are blood or crystals in your urine.

A cystoscopy, performed with the help of a tiny camera, called a cystoscope, can allow your doctor to see the inside of your bladder and actually count your bladder stones. Your doctor may take ultrasounds or X-rays, or perform a CT scan. Your doctor may even perform an intravenous pyelogram; for this test, he'll inject X-ray contrast solution into your veins to help make bladder stones more visible on your X-rays.

Bladder stones may be suspected in patients, who present with symptoms such as,
  • Abdominal pain or pressure
  • Blood, crystals in the urine
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Dysuria (pain with urination)
  • Inability to urinate except in certain positions
  • Incontinence
  • Infection (recurrent)
  • Interruption of the urine stream (stop/start)
  • Pain, discomfort in the penis
  • Urinary urgency
  • Urine discoloration (dark-colored urine)
Many times the diagnosis is detected by CT scan (or plain film x-ray) of the pelvis/urinary bladder and then confirmed by cystoscopy (to look into the bladder with the use of a lighted optical instrument). 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.