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Finally Free of Kidney Stones

Dennis battled kidney stones off and on for more than seven years. The Oregon rancher received care from his local primary care doctor, and even traveled to Bend for surgery. But within five months the stones were back—and worse than ever. They were painful, large, and as it turned out, trapped in his ureter. 

His daughter, who works for St. Luke’s, suggested Dennis come to Boise for care. The night before his appointment he ended up in the St. Luke’s Boise emergency department and was admitted to the hospital. Two procedures were unsuccessful before he finally connected with Dr. Brian Auge, a St. Luke’s urologist fellowship-trained in kidney stone surgery.

Dennis’s case was very complex, Dr. Auge says, because the stones were blocking both ends of the ureter. “I approached his stones from the back through the kidney to the ureter.” Dr. Auge removed both stones in the ureter plus one in Dennis’s kidney, and inserted a stent in the ureter so it could heal. 

After surgery, Dr. Auge had Dennis undergo a metabolic workup to see why he’s such a “stone maker.” He encouraged Dennis to follow a diet that will help his body stop making kidney stones (see tips below).

Dennis has been following up with Dr. Auge and hasn’t had any stones since. He’s drinking more water, avoiding salt and sticking to his new diet, which includes severely limiting beef. “As a lifelong cattle rancher,” he laughs, “that’s a tough blow.”

Preventing Kidney Stones

“Anybody is susceptible to kidney stones,” Dr. Auge says. “About one in six will get them in their lifetime.” 

Tips for Preventing Kidney Stones

  • Drink lots of water, over 100 ounces per day if you’re at risk for kidney stones. Hydration is key in arid environments like ours, especially in summer. Adding lemon juice helps. 
  • Most stones are made up of calcium oxalate. Sodium can push up calcium levels, so avoid it. 
  • Eat fewer high-oxalate foods. These include spinach, bran flakes, rhubarb, beets, potato chips, french fries, nuts and nut butters. The more oxalate absorbed from your digestive tract, the more oxalate in your urine. 
  • Avoid beef. It’s acidic, and leads to calcium being excreted in the urine. 
  • Calcium in food doesn't have an effect on your risk of kidney stones. Continue eating calcium-rich foods unless your doctor advises otherwise. Ask your doctor before taking calcium supplements, as these have been linked to increased risk of kidney stones.

When to Seek Treatment

Contact a health care provider if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Severe pain in the side and back, below the ribs
  • Pain that spreads to the lower abdomen and groin
  • Pain that comes in waves and fluctuates in intensity
  • Pain on urination
  • Pink, red or brown urine
  • Cloudy or foul-smelling urine
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Persistent need to urinate
  • Urinating more often than usual

Need assistance with kidney stones?

Our urologists can help.

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