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Study finds increasing risk of kidney stones in women

Monday September 2, 2013
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Women’s risk of developing kidney stones is increasing, as is the number of cases being seen in U.S. EDs, but the rate of hospitalization for the disorder has remained stable, a recent study found.

Researchers at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit set out to look at trends in visits to EDs, hospitalization and charges for treatment of kidney stones during a four-year period.

"While the number of patients visiting the emergency department had increased over that time period, it was women who had the greatest increase in visits," Khurshid R. Ghani, MD, of Henry Ford’s Vattikuti Urology Institute and lead author of the study, said in a news release.

The study was published Aug. 8 on the Journal of Urology’s website.

According to Ghani, his team’s findings provide additional evidence that the risk for kidney stones among women is increasing, which supports recent population-based studies finding the incidence of kidney stones in women is increasing.

"Women are becoming more and more obese. Obesity is a major risk factor for developing a kidney stone," Ghani said in the release, adding that obese women are more likely to develop a kidney stone than obese men.

For the study, researchers looked for related ED visits from 2006-09 in raw data from the Nationwide Emergency Department Sample. They found a total of 3,635,054 visits for upper urinary tract stones. More men visited the ED than women; however, the study showed the number of women who visited increased.

During the study period, the incidence of the disorder rose from 289 to 306 per 100,000 people. Among the study group, 12% were hospitalized as a result of their visits, and those rates remained stable during the four-year study period.

"I think in the last 10 years, the way urologists manage kidney stone patients in the ER has changed dramatically," Ghani said in the release. "Today, the emergency room physician and urologist have access to better diagnostic tools that allow for a more precise diagnosis. We use a CT scan, which is a quick test that allows for an immediate diagnosis and is available in every emergency department."

According to Ghani, improvements in diagnosis might have contributed to hospital admissions becoming more infrequent than in the past, and medication helps in spontaneous passing of kidney stones, meaning more patients can be safely managed through outpatient appointments.

The study showed the highest likelihood of hospitalization was related to sepsis, which can sometimes occur when the stone causes a blockage and urinary tract infection.

Most notably, the charges for ED visits rose to $5 billion in 2009 from $3.8 billion in 2006. According to Ghani, the use of CT scans to diagnose kidney stones, while effective, is a factor in the increase in charges.

Study abstract: www.jurology.com/article/S0022-5347%2813%2905092-1/abstract.


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