A leading surgeon has said hundreds of people could be “suffering unnecessarily” from recurrent urine infections as a result of undiagnosed and untreated kidney stones.
Bhaskar Somani, a consultant urological surgeon at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, said the condition was a common “underlying but overlooked” cause of urinary tract infections (UTIs).
He said this resulted in a “vicious cycle” of exacerbating stone disease symptoms coupled with persistent UTIs – despite both problems being “resolved easily” through a simple procedure.
“UTIs are unpleasant, uncomfortable and greatly impact people’s lives – almost half of all women will experience a UTI in their lifetime,” explained Mr Somani, who is based at Southampton General Hospital.
“More often than not recurrent UTIs are linked with bacteria and bladder problems and, in men, are often related to enlarged prostate.
“If patients are suffering regularly despite medication, that could indicate kidney stone disease as, until they are removed completely, infections are likely to return.”
Kidney – or renal – stones affect around 10% to 20% of the male population and 3% to 5% of women between the ages of 20 and 60 years and develop when crystals of salt accumulate into stone-like lumps.
Although the body tries to pass stones out of the urinary system, they can lodge in the kidney tube and cause severe and persistent abdominal and groin pain which, in many cases, can only be corrected through surgery.
Mr Somani spoke out following his team’s study of 103 consecutive patients who underwent minimally invasive ureteroscopy procedures to remove stones associated with UTIs over four years at Southampton General Hospital.
The procedure involves inserting a ureteroscope, which is a thin tube used for viewing, into the kidney via the bladder to visualise stones before removing them using a small forceps-like tool.
The results, published in the Central European Journey of Urology, showed that after successful stone treatment, 88% were infection-free after three months and three-quarters of patients (71%) remained free of UTI a year after removal of their stones.
“What this study shows us is that there is a strong association between kidney stone disease and UTIs and clearance of stones resolves UTIs in the majority of cases,” said Mr Somani, who is an associate professor of urology at the University of Southampton.
“So, the message to people who have recurrent UTIs is that they could be suffering unnecessarily due to underlying kidney stones and, if they get checked and treated, removal of the stones is likely to prevent further UTIs.”
Posted on Thursday 21 June 2018