Kidney stones: an update on current pharmacological management and future directions

Expert Opin Pharmacother. 2013 Mar;14(4):435-47. doi: 10.1517/14656566.2013.775250.


Introduction: Kidney stones are a common problem worldwide with substantial morbidities and economic costs. Medical therapy reduces stone recurrence significantly. Much progress has been made in the last several decades in improving therapy of stone disease.

Areas covered: This review discusses i) the effect of medical expulsive therapy on spontaneous stone passage, ii) pharmacotherapy in the prevention of stone recurrence and iii) future directions in the treatment of kidney stone disease.

Expert opinion: Fluid intake to promote urine volume of at least 2.5 L each day is essential to prevent stone formation. Dietary recommendations should be adjusted based on individual metabolic abnormalities. Properly dosed thiazide treatment is the standard therapy for calcium stone formers with idiopathic hypercalciuria. Potassium alkali therapy is considered for hypocitraturia, but caution should be taken to prevent potential risk of calcium phosphate stone formation. For absorptive hyperoxaluria, low oxalate diet and increased dietary calcium intake are recommended. Pyridoxine has been shown effective in some cases of primary hyperoxaluria type I. Allopurinol is used in calcium oxalate stone formers with hyperuricosuria. Treatment of cystine stones remains challenging. Tiopronin can be used if urinary alkalinization and adequate fluid intake are insufficient. For struvite stones, complete surgical removal coupled with appropriate antibiotic therapy is necessary.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic alpha-1 Receptor Antagonists / administration & dosage
  • Adrenergic alpha-1 Receptor Antagonists / adverse effects
  • Adrenergic alpha-1 Receptor Antagonists / therapeutic use*
  • Calcium Channel Blockers / administration & dosage
  • Calcium Channel Blockers / adverse effects
  • Calcium Channel Blockers / therapeutic use*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Diuretics / administration & dosage
  • Diuretics / adverse effects
  • Diuretics / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Kidney Calculi / drug therapy*
  • Kidney Calculi / etiology
  • Kidney Calculi / prevention & control
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Secondary Prevention


  • Adrenergic alpha-1 Receptor Antagonists
  • Calcium Channel Blockers
  • Diuretics