Internal Medicine | Nephrology Questions Kidney Stones

Is an MRI used to diagnose kidney stones?

I have severe pain in my left side, and I think it's my kidneys. I can walk, but barely. My mom wants me to go to the hospital, but I'm a little scared. She thinks it's kidney stones. How will this be diagnosed? Would I need a MRI?

5 Answers

CT is best without contrast for stones.
No. Either simple X-rays of abdomen can answer that or CAT scan can be done, which is more accurate. Both are non invasive exam and not painful at all.
CT abdomen/pelvis is the most accurate imaging modality to diagnose kidney, ureteral and bladder stones. US renal can be used to diagnose hydronephrosis, which may be associated with an obstructing ureteral stone. Sometimes the stones are visualized, but US is less sensitive than CT. An X-ray of the abdomen called a KUB may be used, but is less sensitive than CT. MRI is rarely used for stones because it is not sensitive, time consuming and expensive.
No, CT is better.
MRI is very insensitive for evaluating for kidney stones because it is not very sensitive for picking up calcifications. A much better and more sensitive study for detecting even small kidney stones or stones within the ureters or bladder is a CT scan of the absomen and pelvis without contrast using the so-called renal stone protocol. This would be a great test to evaluate for the presence of kidney stones. If you are concerned about radiation exposure from CT scan for kidney stones, then ultrasound can be useful to evaluate for stones with in the kidneys but it is not useful for evaluating stones with in the ureters. I hope this helps.