Metabolic Disorders That Cause Kidney Stones

Identifying why your body is making kidney stones is an important step to preventing new stones from forming. 

Once your acute stone episode has passed or after you have healed from your procedure(s), Dr. Davalos will shift focus to stone prevention.

In some cases, the underlying cause of your stone disease (called a metabolic disorder) can be completely treated and your risk of recurrent stones eliminated.

In most cases stone disease cannot be cured; but recurrence can be reduced by 90% if you follow your stone prevention plan.

A patient specific stone prevention plan will be developed once you complete the recommended testing. Testing usually consists of an at home 24 hour urine collection  and specialized blood tests.


Common metabolic disorders:

  • Hypercalciuria—Elevated calcium in the urine. This is NOT caused by consuming a normal calcium diet.  Testing will reveal the underlying disorder as there are several causes.

  • Hyperoxaluria—Elevated oxalates in the urine. This is generally caused by consuming foods high in oxalates.  Oxalates are found in foods such as spinach, peanuts, and some teas.  Patients who have bowel disease (such as Chrone’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis) and also patients who have undergone gastric bypass surgery are especially at risk.

  • Hypocitraturia—Low levels of citrate in the urine.  Citrate is also known as citric acid.  Citrate is the most potent known stone inhibitor—preventing the formation of crystals in the urine.  Citrate is found in high concentrations in citrus fruits such as lemons and oranges.  Some patients have low levels of citrate in their urine that may need medication or supplements to adequately treat.

  • Gouty diathesis—Uric acid stones. These stones generally form due to acidic urine.  This disorder has been associated with gout; however, the disorder that causes kidney stones is distinct.  This is a curable form of stone disease and treatment focuses on alkalinizing the urine (minimizing the acidity of the urine).

Dietary causes of Kidney Stones:

  • Over-consumption of salt— This leads to elevated levels of calcium in the urine.

  • Under-consumption of magnesium— Magnesium is another potent stone inhibitor.

  • Over-consumption of proteins— Once thought to be primarily linked to red meat, over-consumption of any protein can lead to an environment in the kidney that promotes the formation of stones.

Learn more about preventing kidney stones.