How effective is tamsulosin for kidney stones?

Kidney stones next to a ruler to show size.

When tamsulosin is given for kidney stones, most men are able to clear them quickly and return to normal health. This medication is most effective when used together with another treatment that breaks larger stones into smaller pieces. In women, taking tamsulosin is not effective in treating kidney stones.

Recent medical studies have confirmed that giving tamsulosin to male patients can effectively treat kidney stones. This medication works well when combined with extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL), a treatment that uses high-intensity sound waves to break kidney stones into smaller pieces. After the stones are broken, they can leave the body in the urine. Although ESWL can be used alone, nearly half of patients who receive this treatment alone need to do so more than once. Only about a quarter of patients who receive ESWL without the administration of tamsulosin see the condition heal within one month and only about half within three months.

A kidney with a kidney stone.

Patients who receive tamsulosin for kidney stones see a marked improvement over patients who receive SWL alone. About half of these patients have no more kidney stones at one month and 80% have no more kidney stones at three months. In terms of long-term treatment, patients who receive tamsulosin usually do not need to return to the doctor to break large kidney stones a second time. On average, patients receiving tamsulosin for kidney stones cleared all stones within 50 days.

Drink water to improve urinary flow.

Tamsulosin is only effective in male patients. This medication is an alpha blocker, which is a type of medication that relaxes certain muscles and dilates blood vessels. Specifically, this drug targets a muscle in the prostate, which is a gland in the male reproductive system that sits near the urinary tract. Relaxing this muscle puts less pressure on the urinary tract, allowing kidney stones to pass through it more easily.

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A urinalysis may be performed to detect kidney stones.

Using tamsulosin for kidney stones can be even more effective when combined with various self-care treatments. Patients can make sure they drink enough water so that there is more fluid flowing through the urinary tract. They can also watch your sodium intake so that fluid is not retained by the kidneys. In some cases, patients are given other medications to relieve pain and prevent the loss of calcium in the urine during treatment with tamsulosin.

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