What can the microstructure of stones tell us?

James C. Williams, Elaine Worcester, James E. Lingeman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

9 Scopus citations


How stones are retained within the kidney while small in size is still not fully understood. In this paper, we show two examples of how stones are retained during early growth: one is growth on Randall’s (interstitial) plaque, and the other is growth on mineral that has formed as a luminal plug in a terminal collecting duct. These two mechanisms of stone retention during early growth have distinctive morphologic features that can be seen by methods that show the microscopic structure of the stones. Stones growing on Randall’s plaque display an apatite region that is typically not large in size (<0.5 mm across) but which usually shows luminal spaces, which are signs of its origin in the connective tissue of the papilla. Stones growing on ductal plugs also show attachment to a piece of apatite, but the apatite regions are typically larger (often >1 mm long and >0.5 mm wide), and they are solid, without spaces running through them. We propose that knowing the mechanisms of stone retention during early stone formation could allow for better treatment of stone diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19-25
Number of pages7
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017


  • Imaging
  • Nephrolithiasis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urology

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