Anyone who has had to deal with kidney stones can tell you what a painful experience they can be. But what are kidney stones and how do the come about. New research is shedding some light on those and many other questions about kidney stones.
According to a new report in the journal Scientific Reports, is that kidney stones are built up in calcium-rich layers that resemble other mineralization’s in nature, such as those forming coral reefs or arising in hot springs, Roman aqueducts or subsurface oil fields.
But perhaps one of the most interesting findings of the study was that kidney stones partially dissolve and regrow again and again as they form. Prior to these findings it had always been believed that kidney stones are homogenous rocks that never dissolve and are different from all other rocks in nature.
The findings were the result of looking at kidney stones much more closely and with a broader array of light and electron microscopy techniques than others had employed before.
According to Mayandi Sivaguru who is the lead author of the study and who lead the microscopic work, the methods included bright-field, phase-contrast, polarization, confocal, fluorescence and electron microscopy, with newly invented combinations of these tools and X-ray spectroscopy.
The clarity of the images allowed the team to view the samples at 140-nanometer magnification which is much higher than is normally possible with light microscopy. Thanks to these techniques, colorful images of the interior growth history of the kidney stones were observed, revealing that they are built up in alternating thin layers of organic matter and crystals, interrupted in places with jutting interior crystals.
Researchers say that before this study kidney stones were assumed to be simple crystals that get bigger over time. Now it has been revealed that kidney stones are in a continuous cycle of growing and dissolving and very much alive.