Tests and diagnosis

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Reaching a diagnosis of bladder stones may involve:

  • A physical exam. Your doctor will likely feel your lower abdomen to see if your bladder is enlarged (distended) and, in some cases, perform a rectal exam to determine whether your prostate is enlarged. You should also discuss any urinary signs or symptoms that you're having.
  • Analysis of your urine (urinalysis). A sample of your urine may be collected and examined for microscopic amounts of blood, bacteria and crystallized minerals. A urinalysis also helps determine whether you have a urinary tract infection, which can cause or be the result of bladder stones.
  • Spiral computerized tomography (CT) scan. A conventional CT scan combines multiple X-rays with computer technology to create cross-sectional images of your body. A spiral CT speeds up this process, scanning more quickly and with greater definition of internal structures. Spiral CTs can detect even very small stones and are considered one of the most sensitive tests for identifying all types of bladder stones.
  • Ultrasound. An ultrasound, which bounces sound waves off organs and structures in your body to create pictures, can help your doctor detect bladder stones.
  • X-ray. An X-ray of your kidneys, ureters and bladder helps your doctor determine whether stones are present in your urinary system. But some types of stones aren't visible on conventional X-rays.
  • Special imaging of your urinary tract (intravenous pyelogram). An intravenous pyelogram is a test that uses a contrast material to highlight organs in your urinary tract. The material is injected into a vein in your arm and flows into your kidneys, ureters and bladder, outlining each of these organs. X-ray pictures are taken at specific time points during the procedure to check for stones. Spiral CT scans are generally done instead of an intravenous pyelogram.
Aug. 14, 2013