The urinary system cleans the body of wastes. It gets rid of everything that the body does not need, to maintain balance in the rest of the systems. For instance, your body does not need 16 ounces of meat at dinner. The waste products of that meat will be circulated to your kidneys to be eliminated. And some of these waste products are the building blocks of kidney stones.
The Urinary System and How It Works
If we are to understand what goes wrong in the urinary system to cause kidney stones, it is important to see how this hardworking system normally operates to keep the body healthy.
The kidneys are the main organ of the urinary system. We are born with two kidneys that lie against the back of the abdominal wall, just above the waist. Each kidney is about the size of a small grapefruit.
Your kidneys do not make urine-they make clean blood. This often comes as a surprise to people. Yet this concept is critical to the management of kidney stones.
If you see smoke coming out of a power plant, you know that it is working. The plant does not manufacture smoke; it is simply a by-product of its workings. Similarly, if we see urine, we know that the kidney is working. But urine is a by-product of the workings of the kidney, not its main industry.
The kidneys have two basic functions:
1. Cleaning out toxic substances from the blood
2. Keeping the things your body does need in proper balance
For example, if you eat something that could be poisonous to your system, such as lead, the kidney’s job is to get rid of it and not let it accumulate in your body. Substances that the body needs constantly, such as sodium, must be kept at healthy levels.
John S. Rodman, M.D., R. Ernest Sosa, M.D., and Cynthia Seidman, M.S., R.D., with Rory Jones
The Experts Tell You All You Need to Know about Prevention and Treatment
John S. Rodman, M.D., is an internationally recognized expert and researcher on kidney stone disease. He is associate clinical professor of medicine at the Weill Cornell University School of Medicine in New York City and a member of the attending staffs at New York Presbyterian Hospital and Lenox Hill Hospital. He has published extensively in the professional journals and medical textbooks and has lectured worldwide on kidney stone formation and treatment.
R. Ernest Sosa, M.D., is a leading urologist in New York City who specializes in surgical techniques for kidney stones. He is associate clinical professor of urology at the Weill Cornell University School of Medicine and attending urologist at New York Presbyterian Hospital. He served for 20 years as director of the Brady Stone Center at the Department of Urology at Weil Cornell–New York Presbyterian Hospital. He has written and lectured on and taught the diagnosis and treatment of stone disease internationally.
Cynthia Seidman, M.S., R.D., is director of dietary services at the Rockefeller University Hospital in New York City. She coordinates the design and development of all research diets at Rockefeller and has published in a number of professional journals. She is cochair of the Research Committee of the National GCRC Research Dietitians Association and is a member of the American Dietetic Association.
Rory Jones, an award-winning writer and television producer, has done extensive work on health and medical topics. She has developed educational programs as well as interactive multimedia for both adults and children.