The kidneys are bean-shaped organs in your back under your ribs. Part of the urinary system, they f...
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The kidneys are bean-shaped organs in your back under your ribs. Part of the urinary system, they filter extra water and wastes from the blood to produce urine. Urine passes from the kidneys to the bladder through the ureters, and from the bladder through the urethra to leave the body. Kidney stones or calculi are mineral and salt deposits that form inside the kidneys. They build up in layers over time and can be the size of a grain of sand, a pearl or even a golf ball. Small stones can stay in the kidney, or pass easily without causing problems. A larger stone can get stuck in the ureter, bladder or urethra, block the flow of urine and be extremely painful. When a stone does not pass, it may be treated with shock waves or lithotripsy, directed from outside or inside your body, which break the stones into smaller pieces that can pass. Other treatment may involve using a scope to explore the urethra, bladder and ureters or less often an open surgical procedure to find and remove the stone.