Bladder stones are crystal masses that form in the urinary tract and end up in the bladder. Bladder stones are usually the result of another urological disorder, such as a urinary tract infection, although their exact cause is not known. Bladder stones are most common in men. In fact, 95 percent of patients with these stones are men.
Bladder stones are much less common than kidney stones. They can occur when urine in the bladder is concentrated and materials in urine begin to crystallize. While they begin as tiny grains, they can grow to be more than an inch in size. You may notice symptoms when the stones obstruct the flow of urine from your bladder or when the bladder's lining gets irritated.
Symptoms of bladder stones include a frequent urge to urinate, difficulty or inability to urinate, and blood in the urine. In addition, you may have abdominal pain and pressure, pain or discomfort in the penis, and painful urination. Bladder stones can also form when you already have a urinary tract infection. Sometimes an enlarged prostate contributes to the incidence of bladder stones.
Drinking plenty of water each day can help the stones to pass. Your doctor can also remove them with a cytoscope, or break them up with ultrasound or shock waves. In some cases, they may need to be removed surgically. If left untreated, they can cause permanent damage to the kidneys or bladder.