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Open Access Research article

Nondestructive analysis of urinary calculi using micro computed tomography

Chad A Zarse1*, James A McAteer1, Andre J Sommer2, Samuel C Kim3, Erin K Hatt1, James E Lingeman3, Andrew P Evan1 and James C Williams1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, Indiana (USA)

2 Molecular Microspectroscopy Laboratory, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio (USA)

3 Methodist Hospital Institute for Kidney Stone Disease, Methodist Hospital, Indianapolis, Indiana (USA)

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BMC Urology 2004, 4:15  doi:10.1186/1471-2490-4-15

Published: 13 December 2004

Abstract

Background

Micro computed tomography (micro CT) has been shown to provide exceptionally high quality imaging of the fine structural detail within urinary calculi. We tested the idea that micro CT might also be used to identify the mineral composition of urinary stones non-destructively.

Methods

Micro CT x-ray attenuation values were measured for mineral that was positively identified by infrared microspectroscopy (FT-IR). To do this, human urinary stones were sectioned with a diamond wire saw. The cut surface was explored by FT-IR and regions of pure mineral were evaluated by micro CT to correlate x-ray attenuation values with mineral content. Additionally, intact stones were imaged with micro CT to visualize internal morphology and map the distribution of specific mineral components in 3-D.

Results

Micro CT images taken just beneath the cut surface of urinary stones showed excellent resolution of structural detail that could be correlated with structure visible in the optical image mode of FT-IR. Regions of pure mineral were not difficult to find by FT-IR for most stones and such regions could be localized on micro CT images of the cut surface. This was not true, however, for two brushite stones tested; in these, brushite was closely intermixed with calcium oxalate. Micro CT x-ray attenuation values were collected for six minerals that could be found in regions that appeared to be pure, including uric acid (3515 – 4995 micro CT attenuation units, AU), struvite (7242 – 7969 AU), cystine (8619 – 9921 AU), calcium oxalate dihydrate (13815 – 15797 AU), calcium oxalate monohydrate (16297 – 18449 AU), and hydroxyapatite (21144 – 23121 AU). These AU values did not overlap. Analysis of intact stones showed excellent resolution of structural detail and could discriminate multiple mineral types within heterogeneous stones.

Conclusions

Micro CT gives excellent structural detail of urinary stones, and these results demonstrate the feasibility of identifying and localizing most of the common mineral types found in urinary calculi using laboratory CT.