Kidney stones form when minerals which are normally dissolved in urine precipitate into solid crystals. Consuming large volumes of fluids - and in particular, water - minimizes the risk of developing kidney stones. Kidney stones may be silent or may cause severe flank/groin pain.
Management depends on the size, location, and type of stone. Some stones may be observed. Many small stones will pass spontaneously with little discomfort. Other options include placing a stent to allow urine to drain beyond the stone, endoscopically breaking up the stone using a laser (ureteroscopy), or targeting the stone with shock waves from outside the body (extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy - ESWL).
Large kidney stones are best managed using instruments placed through the back and into the kidney; this is the only procedure typically requiring a hospital admission for kidney stone treatment.