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Urolithiasis. 2017 Apr;45(2):151-157. doi: 10.1007/s00240-016-0900-y. Epub 2016 Jun 21.

Kinetics of calcium oxalate crystal formation in urine.

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Deutsches Harnsteinzentrum, Urologisches Zentrum Bonn, Friedensplatz 16, 53111, Bonn, Germany.
FH Aachen, Campus Jülich, FB Medizintechnik und Technomathematik, Heinrich-Mußmann-Straße 1, 52428 Jülich, Germany.
NTTF Coatings GmbH, Maarweg 30, 53619, Rheinbreitbach, Germany.


It is routinely observed that persons with increased urinary stone risk factors do not necessarily form uroliths. Furthermore, stone formers can present with urinalyses that do not reflect the clinical picture. We explain this discrepancy by differences in crystallization kinetics. In 1162 urines, crystallization of Ca-oxalate was induced according to the BONN-Risk-Index (BRI) method. The urine's relative light transmissivity (RLT) was recorded from 100 % at start of titration to 95 % due to nuclei formation and crystal growth. From the RLT changes, a measure of the thermodynamic inhibition threshold of crystal formation (BRI) and of crystal growth kinetics is derived ("turbidity slope" after crystallization onset). On average, subjects presenting with a low inhibition threshold, i.e., high BRI, also present significantly higher crystal growth rates compared with subjects in lower BRI classes. Only subjects in the highest BRI class show a lower growth rate than expected, probably due to a depletion of supersaturation by massive initial nucleation. With increasing thermodynamic risk of crystal formation (i.e., increasing BRI) due to an imbalance between inhibitors and promoters of crystal formation, an increase in the imbalance between inhibitors and promoters of crystal growth (i.e., increasing growth rate) is observed. Both lead to an increased urolith formation risk. Healthy subjects with increased BRI are an exception to this trend: their urine is thermodynamically prone to form stones, but they show a kinetic inhibition preventing nuclei from significant growth.


BONN Risk Index; Induced crystallization; Thermodynamic inhibition; Urolithiasis supersaturation

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