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Integration and utilization of modern technologies in nephrolithiasis research


Nephrolithiasis, or stones, is one of the oldest urological diseases, with descriptions and treatment strategies dating back to ancient times. Despite the enormous number of patients affected by stones, a surprising lack of conceptual understanding of many aspects of this disease still exists. This lack of understanding includes mechanisms of stone formation and retention, the clinical relevance of different stone compositions and that of formation patterns and associated pathological features to the overall course of the condition. Fortunately, a number of new tools are available to assist in answering such questions. New renal endoscopes enable kidney visualization in much higher definition than was previously possible, while micro-CT imaging is the optimal technique for assessment of stone microstructure and mineral composition in a nondestructive fashion. Together, these tools have the potential to provide novel insights into the aetiology of stone formation that might unlock new prevention and treatment strategies, and enable more effective management of patients with nephrolithiasis.

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Figure 1: Fibre-optic versus digital ureteroscopic images.
Figure 2: Digital ureteroscopic image of a classic renal papilla.
Figure 3: Micro-CT imaging and reconstruction of a stone fragment.
Figure 4: Renal mapping of a right kidney using high-definition renal endoscopy.
Figure 5: Common renal papillary abnormalities observed in stone formers.
Figure 6: Comparisons of stones anchored to papillary tissue in two different ways.
Figure 7: Direct comparison of reconstructions of stones formed on a Randall plaque or on a ductal plug.


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J.C.W., A.P.E. and J.E.L. gratefully acknowledge funding from the National Institutes of Health P01 DK056788/DK/NIDDK NIH HHS/United States.

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All authors made substantial contributions to researching data for this article, discussions of content, writing and editing and reviewing of this manuscript prior to submission.

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Correspondence to James E. Lingeman.

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Competing interests

J.E.L. is the owner and scientific director of Beck Analytical and has acted as a consultant for Boston Scientific. The other authors declare no competing interests.

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Borofsky, M., Dauw, C., Cohen, A. et al. Integration and utilization of modern technologies in nephrolithiasis research. Nat Rev Urol 13, 549–557 (2016).

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