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Calculus (medicine)

A calculus is a stone (a concretion of material, usually mineral salts) that forms in an organ or duct of the body. Stones cause a number of important medical conditions.


Common stone diseases

A number of important medical conditions are caused by stones:

Stones can also be asymptomatic.

Some common principles (below) apply to stones at any location, but for specifics see the particular stone type in question.


Pathophysiology & Symptoms

Stones can cause disease by several mechanisms:

  • Irritation of nearby tissues, causing pain, swelling, and inflammation.
  • Obstruction of an opening or duct, interfering with normal flow and disrupting the function of the organ in question.
  • Predisposition to infection (often due to disruption of normal flow).


Diagnostic workup varies by the stone type, but in general:

  • Clinical history and physical examination can be sufficient in some cases.
  • Imaging studies are often needed.
    • Some stone types (mainly those with substantial calcium content) can be detected on X-ray and CT scan.
    • Many stone types can be detected by ultrasound.
  • Factors contributing to stone formation (as in #Aetiology) are often tested:
    • Laboratory testing can give levels of relevant substances in blood or urine.
    • Some stones can be directly recovered (at surgery, or when they leave the body spontaneously) and sent to a laboratory for analysis of content.


Again, treatment varies by stone type, but in general:

  • Modification of predisposing factors can sometimes slow or reverse stone formation.
    • Medications can sometimes be used.
    • Surgery is sometimes needed.
  • Infections due to stones have to be treated with antibiotics and/or surgery.
  • Pain is managed with medication.

See also

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Calculus_(medicine)". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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