Types of Kidney Stones

NYU Langone doctors can successfully diagnose and treat many types of kidney stones. There are five main types, each with its own cause. You may be more likely to develop certain types of kidney stones based on your diet and family history.

Calcium Oxalate Stones

The most common type of kidney stone is a calcium oxalate stone. These result when the urine contains low levels of citrate and high levels of calcium and either oxalate or uric acid. Calcium oxalate stones are linked with foods high in oxalate, which is a naturally occurring substance in plants and animals. These include beets, black tea, chocolate, nuts, potatoes, and spinach.

If you continually develop calcium oxalate stones, your doctor may recommend further evaluation of your urinary function and metabolism. This requires blood tests and the collection of urine at home for at least one 24-hour period. Your doctor may also recommend dietary modifications to reduce the likelihood of kidney stones returning.

Calcium Phosphate Stones

Calcium phosphate kidney stones are caused by abnormalities in the way the urinary system functions. Your doctor may order a series of blood and urine tests to determine whether any urinary or kidney problems could be causing this type of stone, which often occurs simultaneously with calcium oxalate stones.

Struvite Stones

More common in women, struvite stones form as a result of certain types of urinary tract infections. These stones tend to grow quickly and become large, sometimes occupying the entire kidney. Left untreated, they can cause frequent and sometimes severe urinary tract infections and loss of kidney function. 

Uric Acid Stones

More common in men, uric acid stones tend to occur in people who don’t drink enough water or have a diet high in animal protein. They are also more likely to occur in people who have gout, a family history of this type of kidney stone, or in those who’ve had chemotherapy.

Cystine Stones

Cystine stones are caused by a hereditary genetic disorder called cystinuria that can lead to excessive amounts of the amino acid cystine collecting in the urine. This can result in the formation of stones in the kidneys, bladder, and ureters, which transport urine from the kidneys to the bladder.

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