The first kidney stone that Larry Collings had was a stubborn one; doctors tried sounds waves and surgery, but nothing helped. It wasn’t until he came to USC Verdugo Hills Hospital that he found relief.

Battling kidney stones and the pain associated with them had become a way of life for the La Crescenta resident.

“I have had seven surgeries for kidney stones,” says Collings, “which is much more than my share.”

Kidney stones are created when there is a buildup of crystals in the urine. The stones sometimes pass through the ureter, but can also lodge in the kidney. When they block the ureter they can cause a backup of urine, which can lead to extreme pain.

To try to prevent future stones, Collings sought help at USC Verdugo Hills Hospital. He met with Mike Nguyen, MD, MPH, an expert in kidney stone treatment and associate professor of clinical urology, Keck School of Medicine of USC and USC Institute of Urology. Nguyen suggested Collings get tested for an overactive parathyroid gland, which can cause an overabundance of calcium, which can lead to kidney stones. Collings tested positive for the condition.

Hyperparathyroidism is caused when one or more of the parathyroid glands produces too many hormones. In proper amounts, these hormones help maintain a good balance of calcium in the body. But when the glands are overactive, too much calcium can circulate in the bloodstream, leading to kidney stones.

Collings underwent surgery again in July at USC Verdugo Hills to remove the overactive parathyroid gland. The surgeons tested the level of parathyroid hormone during surgery and found that it dropped after removing the enlarged gland, giving him hope that his ordeal with kidney stones might finally be finished.

“I think we found the culprit and got rid of it and are finally done with it,” says Collings.

By Hope Hamashige