Scanning Microscopy


Calcium phosphate (CaP) has been detected in the majority of urinary stones containing predominantly calcium oxalate (CaOx). Therefore, crystal phases of CaP might play an important role with respect to the formation of urinary calcium stones in general. Very often, CaP found in stones or tissue of human kidney occurs in the shape of small spherulites. In this paper, we report on a new flow model of crystallization (FMCG), which has been used to generate spherulites of CaP in a gel matrix of 1% agar-agar at 37°C from a supersaturated, metastable solution continuously flowing over the gel surface. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM), X-ray diffraction and microscopic Fourier transformed infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) revealed that the particles formed (diameter: up to 200 μm) consisted of a poorly crystal-line core of carbonatoapatite which was partly surrounded by a well-crystallized shell of octacalcium phosphate (OCP) showing radially oriented sheet-like structures. Subsequently, CaOx was grown on these spherulites from a flow of a correspondingly supersaturated solution conducted over the gel matrix. It could be shown by SEM that growth of calcium oxalate monohydrate (COM) was characteristically induced by the OCP shell. Radial sheet-like forms of OCP were directly continued by COM showing a certain radial orientation.

The model of crystallization in gel matrices applied here should be well-suited to simulate the process of urinary stone formation under in vitro conditions.