Scanning Microscopy


This study aimed to compare calcium oxalate (CaOx) crystallization in undiluted urine from healthy men and women with the object of clarifying the difference in stone incidence between the two sexes. Twenty-four hour urine specimens were collected from 37 men and 28 women. Urinary pH, and concentrations of Ca, oxalate and urate were measured, and indices of crystallization determined by Coulter Counter particle analysis following induction of CaOx crystallization by addition of oxalate. The amount of oxalate required to induce crystallization was significantly (p < 0.01) higher in females than in males, as was the overall particle volume deposited after 90 minutes incubation (p < 0 .006). Scanning electron microscopy revealed larger individual crystals in female urine, and a greater degree of crystal aggregation in male urine, although the average overall size of the precipitated crystal particles did not differ between the two sexes. There were no significant differences between men and women with regard to median pH, or Ca and oxalate concentrations, but the median urate concentrations were slightly, but significantly, higher (p < 0.05) in the women's urines than in the men's. It was concluded that the greater risk of CaOx stones in men is related to an increased propensity to nucleate CaOx crystals per se, rather than to a tendency to form larger crystalline particles.

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