Weill Cornell Medicine Urology
Weill Cornell Medicine Urology
Kidney Stones - Risks & Causes

Kidney Stones - Risks & Causes

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General Risk Factors:

Factors that increase your risk of developing kidney stones include:

  • Dehydration: This is the most common cause and the easiest to remedy. Kidney stones form when your urine contains more crystal-forming substances than the fluid in your urine can dilute. Therefore, not drinking enough water each day can increase your risk of kidney stones.
  • Diet: Studies have shown that eating a diet that's high in sodium can increase your risk of certain types of kidney stones. Too much sodium in your diet increases the amount of calcium your kidneys must filter and significantly increases your risk of kidney stones. In addition, diets that are high in protein and sugar can increase your kidney stone risk. At the same time, your urine may lack citrate, which is known to prevent crystals from being able to adhere to one another, creating an ideal environment for kidney stones to form. For most patients, a low-protein, low-sodium, and moderate-calcium diet is recommended. Specific dietary recommendations will be based upon your stone composition and evaluation of your metabolism.
  • Family or personal history: If someone in your family has had kidney stones, you're more likely to develop stones than someone without a family history.
  • Obesity: High body mass index (BMI), large waist size, and weight gain have all been associated with an increased risk of both a single episode and recurrent episodes of kidney stones.
  • Digestive diseases and surgery: Certain disorders of the digestive system can affect calcium, electrolyte, and water absorption, which may increase your risk of forming kidney stones. Common disorders include gastric bypass surgery and inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.
  • Metabolic disorders: Metabolic conditions that may increase your risk of kidney stones include renal tubular acidosis, cystinuria, and hyperparathyroidism.
  • Urinary tract infections: Patients who suffer from chromic urinary tract infections may form larger stones up in the kidney. These are commonly called struvite or infection stones.

Other Risk Factors:

  • Anatomical abnormalities
  • Obstruction of the kidney or ureter
  • Calyceal diverticulum
  • Horseshoe kidney
  • Ureterocele
  • Vesicoureteral reflux
  • Ureteral stricture
  • Medullary sponge kidney

Types of Kidney Stones:

Knowing the type of kidney stone helps determine the cause and may give clues on how to reduce your risk of getting more kidney stones. This is why it is important to attempt to collect the stone for analysis.

  • Calcium stones: Most kidney stones are calcium stones, usually in the form of calcium oxalate. Oxalate is a naturally occurring substance found in food. Some fruits and vegetables, as well as nuts and chocolate, have high oxalate levels. Dietary factors, high doses of vitamin D, intestinal bypass surgery, and several metabolic disorders can increase the concentration of calcium or oxalate in urine. Calcium stones may also occur in the form of calcium phosphate.
  • Struvite stones: Struvite stones form in response to urinary tract infection. These stones can grow quickly and become large. If not treated, they can alter function of the kidneys over time.
  • Uric acid stones - Uric acid stones can form in people who are dehydrated, eat a diet high in protein, or those who have gout.

Would you like an appointment?

Please call our office at 646-962-9600 to schedule an appointment via phone. Our phone staff are available to help you Monday-Friday, from 9AM-5PM (EST).

If you'd like to learn more about each of our providers that specialize in Kidney Stones, please review the Physicians & Faculty profiles listed at the bottom of this page.

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Physicians & Faculty

Dr. Joseph Del Pizzo, M.D.

Joseph J. Del Pizzo


(646) 962-9600
(646) 962-9600
AETNA [Medicare], AETNA-HMO, Aetna-NYP-EPO/POS, AETNA-PPO, Aetna-Weill Cornell POS, EBCBS Blue Access, EBCBS HMO, EBCBS Mediblue, EBCBS PPO/EPO, Empire BCBS HealthPlus (CHP), Federal Medicare, NY State Medicaid, Rockefeller University-CoreSource, UHC Medicare, United Healthcare Commercial
The LeFrak Center for Robotic Surgery

Patrick Samson


Aetna-Weill Cornell POS, Amida Care, Blue Priority Network, CIGNA, Emblem Select Care, Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield, Fidelis Care, GHI PPO/CBP/Prem PPO (Emblem Exchange Products: Select Care Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, Basic), Health Insurance Plan of NY (HIP), Health Insurance Plan of NY (HIP) [Medicaid], Health Insurance Plan of NY (HIP) [Medicare], Oxford Freedom, Oxford Health Plans [Liberty], Oxford Health Plans [Medicare], Oxford Health Plans [Metro/Core/Charter], Rockefeller University-CoreSource, UHC Compass, United Empire Plan, United Health Care, United Health Care [Community Plan], Wellcare (Medicare, Medicaid, CHP)
Weill Cornell Medicine Urology - Brooklyn

Alfred Winkler

M.D., M.B.A.

(646) 962-9600
(646) 962-9600
AETNA [Medicare], AETNA-HMO, AETNA-PPO, Aetna-Weill Cornell POS, Affinity Access, Affinity Health Plan, Amida Care, Blue Priority Network, CIGNA, EBCBS HMO, EBCBS Mediblue, EBCBS Pathway X, EBCBS Pathway X Enhanced, EBCBS PPO/EPO, Emblem Select Care, Empire BCBS HealthPlus, Empire BCBS HealthPlus (CHP), Fidelis Care, GHI, Health First, Health Insurance Plan of NY (HIP), Health Insurance Plan of NY (HIP) [Medicaid], Health Insurance Plan of NY (HIP) [Medicare], Medicaid, Medicare, Oxford Freedom, Oxford Health Plans [Liberty], Oxford Health Plans [Medicare], Oxford Health Plans [Metro/Core/Charter], POMCO, Rockefeller University-CoreSource, UHC Compass, UHC Medicare, United Empire Plan, United Health Care [Community Plan], United Healthcare Commercial, VNSNY CHOICE Medicare, VNSNY CHOICE SelectHealth

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