Kidney Stone Care at St.Jude: Comprehensive, Multidisciplinary-and Convenient

January 16, 2018

While kidney stones have long been considered one of the most painful conditions, they are quickly also becoming one of the most common. One in 10 Americans will develop these solid concentrations of minerals in the kidneys—a number that continues to rise, especially among women and children.

Fortunately, advances in diagnosis, treatment and prevention are more than keeping pace, all of which can be found at the newly created St. Jude Kidney Stone Center.

“By bringing together a team of experts in urology, nephrology and nutrition, we offer a single point of care for patients suffering from acute or recurrent kidney stones,” explains Eric Tygenhof, MD, a board-certified urologist and expert in kidney stone treatment. “The result is comprehensive, holistic and highly effective care.”

Kidney stones are small “pebbles” of salt and minerals that build up in the urine and can range in size from a small grain to a golf ball. Urine normally contains chemicals that prevent these hard mineral deposits from forming and most remain small enough to travel through the urinary tract unnoticed. But if they continue to grow, the result can be an excruciatingly painful blockage in the urinary tract, the ureter (the tube that connects the kidney to the bladder), or in the kidney itself.

Medications can help speed the passage of smaller stones while high-energy sound waves or lasers are used to safely and painlessly break apart larger stones. Although most kidney stones are treated non-surgically or minimally-invasively at the Kidney Stone Center—often as a simple outpatient procedure—the center also brings a unique expertise to complex cases, including robotic-assisted stone removal and reconstruction.

The Kidney Stone Center’s multidisciplinary approach includes board-certified urologists with specialized experience in stone treatment, as well as board-certified nephrologists who focus on the overall kidney health of patients. A nutritionist works with patients on a personalized plan to help make their first kidney stone their last.

Severe back or abdominal pain, the hallmark symptom of stone disease, accounts for over one million emergency room visits by patients in the U.S. each year. Other symptoms can include blood in the urine; nausea or vomiting; cloudy, foul-smelling urine; and infection, often causing fever, chills and weakness.

Since most kidney stone patients will develop another one, prevention—including metabolic evaluation to identify the source of the problem—is a key part of the center’s focus. “Today we know so much more about how and why stones form,” explains Dr. Tygenhof, “allowing us to tailor treatment and prevention to the individual.”

The St. Jude Kidney Stone Center can be reached at (714) 446-5551.

About St. Jude Medical Center:

St. Jude Medical Center is a faith-based, non-profit 320-bed tertiary care hospital in Fullerton, California. Established 60 years ago by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange, the Magnet-designated hospital has earned a reputation for clinical excellence and award-winning care, including being named one of California’s best hospitals by U.S. News & World Report. St. Jude’s physicians and staff offer specialized care in neurosciences, stroke, digestive diseases, cancer, orthopedics, maternal/newborn, robotic and minimally-invasive surgery, cardiac and rehabilitation. Please visit for more information.

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