Scanning Microscopy


Despite nearly a half-century of study, the clinical value of spontaneous crystalluria (Cx) examinations in calcium stone formers (CaSF) is still uncertain. The analytical complexity of urine particle study is largely responsible for this situation. As a result, there is no consensus regarding technical methods in Cx with several techniques for urine sampling and three different instruments currently used for particle study, namely, particle counting (PC), light microscopy (LM) and petrographic microscopy (PM). In this work, we first examined urine sampling and instrument methods regarding their appropriateness for Cx studies. Then we performed a comparative analysis of Cx studies in CaSF. Despite many technical and clinical discrepancies, several studies agree that the frequency of "all particles" and of the weddellite and whewellite calcium oxalate (CaOx) crystalline phases are increased in CaSF as compared to normal subjects (NS). Particle sizes and aggregation ratio are also often increased. Altogether, these results reinforce the need for an efficient method for Cx studies in these patients. Examining each technique leads us to conclude that most particle parameters can be studied by "direct LM" observation of freshly voided urine samples, i.e., urine samples without any separation steps. For clinical applications, several examinations should be performed, first to define the specific Cx characteristics in a patient, then for the study of treatment efficiency on Cx control, and finally, during the patient follow-up. Due to Cx variability in each patient, the frequency of Cx examinations during each phase needs to be determined in long-term comparative prospective studies of CaSF.

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