Even a simple urinary tract infection, if ignored, can give you a kidney stone capable of damaging the organ beyond repair.
Pushplata Guliani, 41, learnt it the hard way.
Doctors at the Fortis Hospital in Vasant Kunj removed a 13cm stone - as large as the size of a normal kidney itself - from her right kidney last month.
The stone, called staghorn stone due to its irregular shape, filled the entire kidney.
"Stones of such large sizes do not develop overnight; they take a few years to form. In her case, the stone was undetected because she was completely asymptomatic," said Dr Anshuman Agarwal, senior consultant, department of urology, Fortis. It was during a routine x-ray last month that the kidney stone was detected.
"I thought of undergoing preventive tests after I crossed 40. I was surprised to see such a big stone in the x-ray, as I had no sensation whatsoever," said Guliani.
Due to the abnormally large size of the stone, doctors advised her to undergo immediate surgery. The technique that was used is called percutaneous nephrostolithotomy (PCNL), which is for removal of large stones using a keyhole approach.
Four holes of about a centimetre in size were made in her lower back. The holes were used to insert a telescope, laser equipment, equipment to drill holes inside the kidney and drain tubes. The surgery was done in two stages, with a gap of one day in between because of the size of stone and to reduce infection load.
After drilling the hole in the kidney, the stone was crushed using a laser.
"Sixty per cent of the crushed stone was taken out in the first stage and the remaining removed in the final stage. We had to wait for the infection to settle down," said Dr Agarwal.
Earlier, people would get a nine-inch cut for a surgery like this, but with advancement in surgical technology, the operation is possible through small incisions.
One-cm holes do not even require stitches and heal gradually over a period of time. The four-day hospital stay and surgery cost Guliani R1.2 lakh.
"Even a simple urine infection can be a reason for stones that can damage your kidney. Symptoms such as pain, blood in urine, heaviness at the back, burning sensation while passing urine should not be ignored," added Dr Agarwal.