Is X-RAY ideal for identifying kidney stones?


Kidney stones are well known as they affect a significant portion of the population. According to research, every 1 out of 10 people are diagnosed with kidney stones, as it has become more common among the population in the past 30 years. 

People who have kidney stones show symptoms that include:

  • Pain on the side of your lower back that can be either left or right
  • Persistent pain
  • Urine that appears to be cloudy or contains blood
  • Chills
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting 
  • Fever

The risk of kidney stones escalates for those who have a history of diabetes and high blood pressure; therefore, it is favourable for them to visit the best urologist in Punjab, who might guide how to steer clear of kidney stones and offer various ways to diagnose the condition. One of the ways to diagnose kidney stones is an X-ray; therefore, in this article, we will discuss whether it is an ideal option to diagnose kidney stones. 

Is an X-ray required to identify kidney stones?

With chances of diagnosing kidney stones, the best urologist in ludhiana might recommend an X-ray for Kidney- Ureter-Bladder (, which is a method of imaging that creates an image of your abdomen produced by low levels of radiation. The purpose of a (KUB) X-ray for kidney stones is to provide the location and the size of the kidney stones in the urinary tract. 

However, X-rays are not the “go to” test recommended by doctors as, unlike the other tests, X-rays tend to miss identifying small kidney stones like uric acid stones. X-rays are usually suggested in order to identify larger kidney stones and determine their size or, more often, after the diagnosis, in order to observe any changes in their size, but overall, they are not considered the best option to diagnose kidney stones. 

For a detailed image to diagnose the condition, your doctor may recommend a few other tests such as a CT scan or ultrasound along with blood tests, physical exam, and urinalysis. 

Difference between an X-ray, CT scan, and ultrasound. 

CT scan 

A CT scan is the most preferred imaging test that combines X-ray with computer technology to produce an image of the urinary tract. The imaging test provides a detailed image of the urinary tract, detecting the small kidney stones, their size, and location, as it is highly sensitive as compared to an X-ray. CT scans can significantly give off much more radiation than X-rays. 


CT scans are most often used for emergencies and are considered rigorous imaging tests for kidney stones; however, ultrasound can also work as an alternate option to a CT scan. 

An ultrasound does not emit radiation like an X-ray or CT scan. Therefore, it can also be recommended by a doctor as it is a safe and proffered imaging modality for diagnosing kidney stones as they can be performed without any side effects. 

Ultrasound has been accepted as an alternate practice for imaging tests. Even though CT scans are highly sensitive, ultrasound imaging tests have shown similar results during emergencies. However, a CT scan may be required in case the ultrasound image is not clear. 

Bottom line

If you have symptoms of kidney stones, then your doctor will suggest an imaging test and practice a few physical exams. 

Out of all the imaging tests that are X-rays, CT scans and ultrasound, the CT scan is considered to be the ideal method of imaging test as it is highly sensitive and produces a more detailed image to identify kidney stones along with their exact location and size; however, ultrasound is also an acceptable practice for the same as it has shown almost similar results to a CT scans therefore, a doctor may recommend it as it is also a safe and quick method of imaging. 

Overall, X-rays are not suitable for diagnosing kidney stones as it does not detect small kidney stones, but a doctor might order an X-ray to identify large kidney stones.

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