What is the Kidney Stones Clinic?

Seattle Children’s Kidney Stones Clinic is the only program in Washington state to focus on diagnosing and treating children and teens with kidney stones. We help get rid of stones your child has now. We also work with patients and their families to prevent new ones.

At the Kidney Stones Clinic, patients can be seen by their entire health team in the same room, at the same time, to get complete care. Our team includes doctors and nurses who are specialists in treating both the kidneys (nephrology) and urinary tract (urology). Because diet is so important in managing kidney stones, a dietitian is part of our expert team.

What are kidney stones?

Kidney stones form when minerals and other solid materials normally found in pee (urine) clump together. Larger stones can be very painful when they block the kidney or the tubes that carry urine. Although kidney stones most often affect adults, the rate in children has increased over the past 10 years. The likely causes are not drinking enough water and eating too much salt.

How will the Kidney Stones Clinic help my child?

Seattle Children’s is a national leader in caring for children with kidney and urinary conditions. In 2016, U.S. News & World Report ranked Seattle Children’s Nephrology Program No. 4 and Urology Program No. 6 in the country.

We treat kidney stones that affect your child now and help avoid future stones. We combine our deep knowledge of growing children with the latest research on kidney stones. Having a clinic focused on children with kidney stones allows us to study the condition and come up with new, better treatments specifically for children. We know children and teens have different concerns than adults. We work with you to provide complete care that meets the needs of your child and family.

How do you treat children with kidney stones?

Treatment depends on the type of stone your child has.

We start with the simplest treatment, such as having your child drink lots of water and eat less salt. Some children will pass or pee out small stones on their own. Your child’s doctor may give you a special strainer for your child to pee through. The strainer will catch the stone so it can be checked in the lab.

Some children need medicine to help get rid of kidney stones. This is more likely if your child has many stones, if stones come back or if your child has only one kidney. Medicine is also needed if a genetic condition is causing stones to form. This is rare.

Surgical treatments for kidney stones

A doctor called a urologist may treat your child by:

  • Using energy waves to break up the stone into pieces small enough to pee out. This is called lithotripsy.
  • Using a small, thin tube with a telescope and special tool that can break up the stone or remove it. This is put into your child’s body through the urethra, the tube that carries pee to the outside of the body. This procedure is called ureteroscopy.
  • Making a small cut in the skin over the kidney on your child’s back and pulling the stone out. This surgery is called percutaneous removal.

Learning to prevent new stones

At the clinic, patients and their families also learn how to help prevent new stones. We almost always recommend that your child drink more water. Your child also may need to eat less salt and more fruits and vegetables. Sometimes your doctor may give your child medicine to help prevent new stones.

How can I get an appointment?

If you would like a referral to the Kidney Stones Clinic, talk to your primary care provider. If you have a referral, please call 206-987-2524 option 2 to schedule an appointment.

Before your clinic visit we’ll ask you to collect your child’s pee (urine) for 24 hours. It will be tested in the laboratory before your clinic visit. We also will ask you to schedule an ultrasound for the same day as your clinic visit. Results from the urine tests and ultrasound will help our doctors tailor treatment to your child.

Who’s on the team?

At Seattle Children’s Kidney Stones Clinic, your child will get care from doctors who are expert in both the kidneys and urinary tract. Our team also includes nurses, dietitians, family service coordinators and medical assistants. We work together and with you to give your child the best treatment.

Providers in the Kidney Stones Clinic include:

Nephrologist

Urologist

Dietitian

  • Kirsten Thompson, MPH, RDN

Nurses

  • Andrea Baker, RN
  • Melinda Powers, RN

Resources

You and your family may find helpful information on these links and patient handouts.