How Common is Sepsis With Kidney Stones? A Breakdown

How common is sepsis with kidney stones? Uncover the facts about this potentially life-threatening condition and its link to kidney stone complications.

Sepsis is a very serious and life-threatening condition sometimes caused by kidney stones.1 It’s important to know that while about 20% of people have stones in one ureter, having them in both is rare.1 UTIs and sepsis from stones blocking both ureters are critical emergencies, with about 7% of people dying.1 Getting quick help is crucial to avoid severe problems and help patients get better.

Key Takeaways

  • Sepsis is a serious and potentially life-threatening complication of kidney stones.
  • The incidence of unilateral ureteral calculi is around 20%, but bilateral kidney stones are less common.
  • Urinary tract infections and sepsis related to bilateral obstructing ureteral stones are true urological emergencies with a 7% mortality rate.
  • Prompt intervention is crucial to limit complications and improve outcomes in these cases.
  • Understanding the prevalence and risks of sepsis with kidney stones is essential for healthcare providers.

Understanding Sepsis

Sepsis is a serious condition caused by an infection.2 If not treated quickly, it can lead to organ failure and death. This is why it’s so important to know about sepsis.

What is Sepsis?

It occurs when an infection causes the immune system to overreact.3 Your body’s response to the infection spreads, affecting organs. If not stopped, sepsis can turn into septic shock, causing low blood pressure and severe organ failure.

Symptoms of Sepsis

Sepsis signs include a high fever, chills, and fast breathing.2 These signs can look like other sicknesses. That’s why doctors need to be careful, especially with people who might get sepsis more easily.

Risk Factors for Sepsis

Some things increase your chance of getting sepsis. These include weak immune systems and past surgeries.2 People with these risks need close watching to spot sepsis early and treat it fast.

Risk FactorDescription
Weakened Immune SystemConditions or treatments that impair the immune system, such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, or immunosuppressive medications.
Chronic Medical ConditionsDiseases like diabetes, liver disease, or kidney disease that can increase susceptibility to infections.
Recent Surgeries or InfectionsAny recent medical procedures or active infections that can provide an entry point for harmful bacteria or viruses.

Knowing sepsis signs and who is at risk is key. It helps doctors treat it early, which greatly improves the chances of getting better and avoiding severe problems.

Kidney Stones and Sepsis

Kidney stones are hard lumps made of minerals and salts. They grow in the kidneys.2 The most common type is calcium stones. These mainly affect men in their twenties.2 There are also uric acid, cystine, and struvite stones.4

For ureteral stones, calcium stones are common. But there are also uric acid, cystine, and struvite stones.4

Kidney Stone Formation

How kidney stones form is complicated. Diet, how much you drink, and health problems can play a part. Certain kinds, like struvite stones, are linked to UTIs.2

UTIs from certain bacteria can increase the chance of getting struvite stones. This can lead to a higher sepsis risk.2

Types of Kidney Stones

Calcium stones are the most common type. They often show up in men.2 Men also tend to get more uric acid stones than women.2

Struvite stones always come from UTIs. If someone has a shorter urethra, they might get more struvite stones.2 The kind of stone can affect how likely sepsis is or other problems.

kidney stone types

Prevalence of Sepsis with Kidney Stones

The chance of having stones in just one ureter is said to be 20% in studies.4 Yet, the finding of kidney stones in both ureters is rare in medical reports.

Stones blocking both ureters can lead to severe infections and even sepsis. They are one of the few cases in urology that are real emergencies, sometimes ending in death. The death rate is around 7%.4

how common is sepsis with kidney stones

Factors Influencing Sepsis Risk

Experts have not thoroughly studied how common sepsis is with kidney stones. But we know it’s a severe and possibly life-threatening problem.2 One big risk factor for sepsis is when urease-producing bacteria cause struvite stones. This can increase UTIs and sepsis risks.2 Uric acid stones are more of a concern for men than women.2

Obstructive Kidney Stones and Sepsis

Severe problems arise when kidney stones block the flow of urine, especially if it happens in both kidneys. In this case, antibiotics can’t reach where they need to, and the kidneys can’t filter the blood well.4 The chance of having a stone stuck in one ureter is 20%. But, cases of stones blocking both ureters are very rare in medical reports.4 A severe infection from these stones can be deadly, with a 7% chance of mortality.4

See also  How to Prevent Kidney Stones While Taking Topamax

When a stone blocks urine from exiting, it can cause sudden kidney failure. This happens in less than 10% of cases.4 But, if both ureters are blocked with infected stones, quick treatment is critical. Without it, the outcome could be very serious.4

Signs and Symptoms of Sepsis with Kidney Stones

The signs of sepsis with kidney stones are easy to miss. They include a high fever, chills, and intense pain in the side.2 Not being able to talk or explain your pain makes it harder to diagnose. In one case, a patient had a high fever and couldn’t pee, which made doctors think their tubes were blocked by stones. They were also showing signs of sepsis.4

Fever and Chills

Sepsis caused by kidney stones often brings on a high fever and chills. This happens as the body tries to fight off the infection.2 Having a fever and chills can show that sepsis is starting, needing quick action.

Pain and Discomfort

Feeling a lot of pain in your side is common with this condition. This pain can be very bothersome.2 You might also feel sick to your stomach, throw up, and just not well because of the infection.

Urinary Symptoms

Not peeing or very little urine could mean your urinary tract is fully blocked. This can lead to sepsis.4 Another sign is seeing blood in your pee, which happens because the kidney stones are roughing up the inside of your tract.

Diagnosing Sepsis with Kidney Stones

Diagnosing sepsis in people with kidney stones needs careful steps. These include lab tests and special scans. A CT scan is usually best for seeing kidney stones. It’s good at finding signs like blockages. This can help spot why sepsis started4.

Laboratory Tests

Lab tests like checking the urine are key in this. They look for signs of infection or trouble. Finding these can show sepsis might be coming from the stones.

Imaging Techniques

CT scans are great for seeing kidney stones. They catch a lot, with a 95% chance. This is better than ultrasound. Ultrasound works about 45% of the time. But, it’s still helpful for some people who can’t get a CT scan right away4.

Fast action and the right tests are a must. This is for finding sepsis in people with kidney stones. Mixing lab tests and scans is the best way. It helps doctors find the problem quickly. Then, they can treat it before it gets worse.

Treating Sepsis with Kidney Stones

Swift and thorough care is critical when sepsis and kidney stones are linked. The treatment mixes antibiotics, methods to ease the blockage, and procedures to remove stones. This helps fight the infection and clear any blockages.


Picking the right antibiotics and giving them early is key in sepsis management. Starting antibiotic treatment early can stop the infection from spreading. This can stop septic shock and problems with organs.

Using medicines to stop certain types of stones may also be part of the plan. These stones are often tied to UTIs. The main aim is to heal the infection and stop it spreading.

Decompression Techniques

Quick action is vital for patients with blocked upper urinary tracts. This can help antibiotics work better and keeps the kidneys working well.4 Ways to quickly ease the blockage include a stent being put in or a tube directly to the kidney.

These actions restore urine flow and help antibiotics reach the area. This lowers the chance of more problems.

Stone Removal Procedures

Removing the kidney stones may also need surgery, alongside easing the blockage. The type of surgery depends on the stone’s size and where it is. Options include shock wave treatment, keyhole surgery, or in some cases, open surgery.4 This aims to take away the blockage and cut the chance of future infections.

Doctors use a mix of treatments to deal with sepsis caused by kidney stones. This lowers the risk of serious issues and betters the patient’s health.

See also  Kidney Stone Symptoms: Warning Signs and Treatment Options

Preventing Sepsis with Kidney Stones

There isn’t direct data on sepsis prevention with kidney stones. Yet, there are general tips to avoid this major risk.2 Staying well-hydrated and eating right can cut the chance of getting kidney stones. This is key since these stones can cause sepsis.2

If you’ve had kidney stones before or often get UTIs, seeing your doctor regularly is important.2 Early checks can find and fix problems before they get serious, possibly keeping you from sepsis.

Hydration and Dietary Modifications

Being well-hydrated is a powerful way to stop kidney stones from forming.2 Drink lots of water and other fluids. This helps keep your urine system clean, reducing your stone risk.

Changing what you eat helps, too.2 Lowering salt and cutting back on meat lowers your chance of some kidney stones. For example, you might avoid calcium or uric acid stones this way.

Regular Checkups

If you’ve had kidney stones or many UTIs, don’t skip your checkups.4 Regular visits and tests are vital. They pick up problems early, which is crucial to prevent sepsis.

Prompt care for any urine blockages is also critical.4 It prevents kidney harm and sepsis. So, watch out for any signs of trouble and act fast. This keeps the sepsis risk low.

Complications of Sepsis with Kidney Stones

Sepsis with kidney stones can lead to serious issues. A main problem is acute kidney injury. This occurs when the upper urinary system is blocked. It makes it hard for antibiotics to work and filters less blood.4 This can cause a rare type of acute kidney injury. It happens when obstructions block the urine flow from a single kidney or both kidneys.4

Acute Kidney Injury

Obstructive kidney stones, especially when they block both kidneys, up the risk of acute kidney injury. They stop antibiotics from getting where they’re needed and decrease blood filtering.4 Quickly spotting and treating these issues can stop things from getting worse and help the patient get better.

Septic Shock

Septic shock is a very dangerous state with low blood pressure and organ failure. It can happen if a kidney stone infection is not treated, leading to sepsis.3 Acting fast in such cases is key to prevent bad outcomes or even death.

The death rate for UTI and sepsis caused by ureteral stones blocking urine flow is 7%. This shows how serious these problems are.4 Finding and treating infected stones in both ureters is extremely important. It helps avoid kidney damage that can’t be fixed.4

Risk Factors for Severe Outcomes

Some things can make sepsis from kidney stones worse. Getting older or having poor health ups the risk.2 Finding and treating the problem quickly is key. If not, the blockage and infection could get worse fast.2 Knowing these risks and acting fast can help patients a lot.

Age and Overall Health

Being older or not so healthy can lead to more issues with sepsis from kidney stones.2 If someone’s immune system is weak or they have other health problems, they’re more likely to get really sick. This might include problems like a sudden kidney problem or septic shock.

Delayed Treatment

It’s super important to catch and treat sepsis and kidney stones early.2 Waiting can make the blockage and infection worse, which bad for the patient.5 It might even lead to very serious problems or even death. This shows why quick care is so needed.

Prognosis and Recovery

The case study shows that fast action is key for healing. With quick identification, right treatment, and the unblocking of the urinary tract, patients can get better.3 After having tubes placed in their kidneys, the patient got a lot better. Their kidney function went back to normal, and they also got rid of a fever. Acting early can stop kidney damage and other dangerous problems.3

Left unchecked, sepsis can be deadly, leading to a 25% chance of not making it. But, if antibiotics are given within 30 minutes, this risk drops by half.6 A recovery can take up to a year, or even a year and a half for some. The patient in the study got most of their health back after surviving sepsis.6

The situation is slightly different for sepsis with kidney failure. The risk is higher, affecting up to half of these patients.7 The odds of survival are also lower, making it more dangerous than sepsis alone.7 People who need dialysis are at even greater risk. They face a 30 to 50 times higher chance of dying from sepsis.7 Being quick with help is very important here. Every hour without treatment adds to the risk of death by 8%.7

See also  When Should You Go to the ER for Kidney Stones?

Overall, acting fast is crucial and can lead to a good outcome for those with sepsis from kidney stones. Although, if other conditions like kidney problems are there, the situation may not be as positive. Careful watch and swift care are very important for these challenging cases.


Sepsis is a serious issue tied to kidney stones. It can be life-threatening, especially with both kidneys blocked.4 Quick spotting and fast action are key steps to avoid dangers like kidney failure and septic shock. Even though the exact number of sepsis cases with kidney stones is unknown, it must be treated as a urological emergency. It demands a strong suspicion, the right tests, and various treatment methods. These include antibiotics, methods to release pressure, and getting rid of the stones.4

Knowing about the risk factors, signs, and the best way to handle sepsis with kidney stones can better patient outcomes.489 If doctors can see the sepsis risk in kidney stone patients, especially with both kidneys blocked or certain types of bacteria, they can act early. This can prevent problems and help the patient get well.

To wrap up, the conclusion stresses the importance of being alert and using a team approach to tackle sepsis linked to kidney stones. Fast diagnosis, the right treatment, and keeping an eye on the patient are vital. They lower the risks and increase the chance of a good outcome in these difficult scenarios.


How common is sepsis with kidney stones?

The connection between sepsis and kidney stones is not fully known. Yet, it’s seen as a big health risk that can lead to death.

What is the risk of sepsis with kidney stones?

Sepsis risk rises with kidney stones due to certain bacteria and blockages. These can cause infections and make it hard for antibiotics to work. This can lead to a severe infection called sepsis.

What are the common signs and symptoms of sepsis with kidney stones?

People with sepsis from kidney stones might have a fever and feel cold. They can also feel intense pain in their sides. Their urine might change and have blood in it.

How is sepsis with kidney stones diagnosed?

Doctors often use a CT scan to check for kidney stones. This test looks at the body’s insides without using dye. It’s very good at showing kidney stones. Doctors also test the urine to see if there’s an infection.

How is sepsis with kidney stones treated?

Treating sepsis from kidney stones needs quick action. Doctors must clear the blockage in the urine path. They might place a small tube to help the body drain urine. Then, they consider removing the stones with surgery.

How can sepsis with kidney stones be prevented?

Drinking lots of water and eating a healthy diet can help stop kidney stones. Seeing a doctor regularly if you’ve had stones before can also prevent sepsis. They can check on your health to make sure you’re okay.

What are the potential complications of sepsis with kidney stones?

Not being able to get antibiotics into the body’s kidney system can harm the kidneys. It can make the blood pressure drop a lot, causing organs to not work right. This is very dangerous and can be life-threatening.

What are the risk factors for severe outcomes with sepsis and kidney stones?

Being old or in bad health can make sepsis from kidney stones worse. Not getting help fast can also make things very bad. The blockage and infection can quickly get very serious.

What is the prognosis for patients with sepsis related to kidney stones?

If sepsis is caught early and treated well, most people get better. They might need a tube for the urine and surgery to remove the stones. But their health can return to normal.

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