A Pain In My Side

renal image

Sometimes at the beginning of 2020, I began to experience flank pain on my right side. It has been a continuous dull pain, sometimes barely there, and sometimes strongly felt. More recently the pain radiates up my back to my right shoulder.

When COVID-19 hit I hunkered down with my pain and hoped it would work itself out. We were under lockdown in our home and I did not want to venture out to a doctor’s office. Maryland has begun to open up from COVID, and the flank pain has not diminished but gotten worse, I have begun to look for answers.

Last week I went to my primary care physician. He suspected either a muscle issue or possibly a kidney stone. To rule out a kidney stone he ordered a renal and bladder ultrasound.  The radiology report from the ultrasound noted a “nonobstructing right renal calculus.” Translated, a kidney stone.

On the radiology centers website, I discovered something interesting. There was an earlier ultrasound report from 2012 of the same body area. I have vague memories of flank pain back in 2012 and having the same test performed.  That earlier report noted, “small echogenic lesion in the cortex of the right kidney, likely a tiny angiomyolipoma versus nonshadowing stone.  Correlate clinically. CT may be helpful if  indicated.” Translated, an angiomyolipoma (AML) is a benign renal neoplasm composed of fat, vascular, and smooth muscle. No further followup or CT was ever performed.

I contacted my urologist this past week and brought him up to speed. He ordered a KUB, which is an x-ray of Kidney, Ureter, and Bladder to see if the ‘stone’ was calcium-based and if lithotripsy would be a good way to remove the stone.  Lithotripsy is a medical procedure that uses shock waves or a laser to break down stones in the kidney so that the remaining particles of small stone will exit the body when a person urinates. Yesterday I had a KUB.

The results of the KUB were surprising, but correlated to the 2012 test. The radiologist yesterday noted, “No calcific densities noted in the abdomen or pelvis to suggest renal or ureteral calculi.”  Calculus is a kidney stone. There were no kidney stones noted. The radiologist’s overall impression was, “No acute abnormalities in the abdomen.”

So I am sitting here in pain. Not a sharp pain, but a dull constant pain that starts in my right flank and right hip area and radiates up under my shoulder. I have emailed both my urologist and my internist to call me next week to discuss the next steps. I feel like we are back to square one on this issue with no clear direction in sight. I’ve also researched Nephrologists near me and plan to make an appointment with one on Monday morning. More to follow.

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