Kidney Stones Dissolve And Regrow Like Rocks, Study Finds

Posted: Sep 13 2018, 1:56pm CDT | by , Updated: Sep 13 2018, 2:01pm CDT, in Latest Science News


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Kidney Stones Dissolve and Regrow Like Rocks, Study Finds
Fluorescence micrograph of a human kidney stone from the Mayo Clinic. Credit: Mayandi Sivaguru, Jessica Saw from Bruce Fouke Lab

For the first time, researchers recreate the geological history of kidney stones.

Kidney stone is a health condition that causes extreme discomfort to the patient. The painful condition is not easily treatable and sometimes requires surgery to remove stones. Despite being so common in general population, the nature and composition of kidney stones are largely unknown. A latest study, however, presents a much clearer picture of kidney stones’ interior growth. It reveals that kidney stones are calcium-based and these calcium-rich layers resemble other mineralizations in nature, like those found in coral reefs and hot springs. Most importantly, kidneystones can dissolve and regrow as they form. The findings contradict the widely held view that kidney stones are different from other rocks in nature and remain same throughout their geological history.

“Contrary to what doctors learn in their medical training, we found that kidney stones undergo a dynamic process of growing and dissolving, growing and dissolving," said lead researcher and University of Illinois geology and microbiology professor Bruce Fouke. "This means that one day we may be able to intervene to fully dissolve the stones right in the patient's kidney, something most doctors today would say is impossible.”

In the latest effort, researchers closely looked at kidney stones using a wide range of microscopy techniques. These techniques included bright-field, polarization, fluorescence and electron microscopy. Most of these techniques are commonly used in geology, studying composition of rocks and changes in them over time. But they have not been used to study mineralization in human body.

Latest microscopy methods observed kidney stones in greater detail than ever before. Specifically, Airyscan super-resolution microscopy allowed researchers to view the samples at 140-nanometer resolution, which is much higher than normal light microscopy.

The results showed that kidney stones hold a “minute by minute record of health and functioning of a person’s kidney.” In the earliest stages of kidney stone development, layers of organic matter stick to each other and form a huge clump. But the clump was disrupted in many places, revealing that interior layers were dissolved and new crystals begun to grow again within those voids.

“Before this study, it was thought that a kidney stone is just a simple crystal that gets bigger over time," said Jessica Saw from Mayo Clinic School of Medicine."What we're seeing here is that it's dynamic. The stone is growing and dissolving, growing and dissolving. It's very rich with many components. It's very much alive."

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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