Nephrolithiasis is a heterogeneous disorder, with varying chemical composition and pathophysiologic background. Although kidney stones are generally composed of calcium oxalate or calcium phosphate, they may also consist of uric acid, magnesium-ammonium phosphate, or cystine. Stones develop from a wide variety of metabolic or environmental disturbances, including varying forms of hypercalciuria, hypocitraturia, undue urinary acidity, hyperuricosuria, hyperoxaluria, infection with urease-producing organisms, and cystinuria. The cause of stone formation may be ascertained in most patients using the reliable diagnostic protocols that are available for the identification of these disturbances. Effective medical treatments, capable of correcting underlying derangements, have been formulated. They include sodium cellulose phosphate, thiazide, and orthophosphate for hypercalciuric nephrolithiasis; potassium citrate for hypocitraturic calcium nephrolithiasis; acetohydroxamic acid for infection stones; and d-penicillamine and α-mercaptopropionylglycine for cystinuria. Using these treatments, new stone formation can now be prevented in most patients.
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