Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Kidney Stone - OUCH!!

I have done my best to make sure that everyone knows that Eastfield College has a Scanning Electron Microscope that students and faculty can use.  In fact, if you read this blog at all, you know that I say that in every post. (Oh, look. I just did it again!) As a result several students show up to use the SEMs each day and I am beginning to take our portable SEM to area schools. 

One thing that I really didn't expect is people bringing me things to image, and today I was handed my most interesting specimen - and I do mean specimen.  A kidney stone that one of my colleagues passed yesterday.  (I will not tell you who - he or she can tell you if they want to.)

I am told that passing a kidney stone is an extremely painful experience.  The images below really show why that is true.

So brace yourself for an up-close and personal look at a kidney stone.

 Dissecting Scope Image
This is not the entire stone - a small piece broke off

Dissecting Scope Image

SEM Image[20x]

SEM [249x]
Take about death by a 1000 cuts, this view down one edge really shows the angular crystals of calcium and uric acid.

SEM [850x]

SEM [500x]

SEM [208x]
Top view showing not only angular crystals, but also round nodules

SEM [750x]

SEM [250x]

SEM [400x]

SEM [800x]

SEM [2,000x]

SEM [65x]
Interestingly, part of the kidney stone was not made of sharp and nodular crystals.  There was a more solid portion.
SEM [200x]

SEM [561x]
This image, and the one below, show some of the cost of a kidney stone.  The dark patches are tissue from the donor.
SEM [1,600x]

Definitely one of the most unusual and scary things I have imaged.  I don't know about you, but I am going to drink more water!!

See you in the lab.


  1. kidney stone

    Kidney stone is a disease in the urinary tract wherein specks of minerals form into the urinary tract and even within the kidneys and as a result, it causes pain and discomfort.

  2. As a 'proven' multiple stone producer............OUCH!!!

  3. In one of the first pics, it looks just like a tapeworm is there! Creepy, creepy, creepy

  4. Hi, I am really struggling taking images in SEM for kidney stones, can you please let me know your sample preparation technique?