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Keywords:

  • kidney stones;
  • whewellite;
  • neutron diffraction;
  • scanning electron microscopy

Kidney stones made of whewellite, i.e. calcium oxalate monohydrate, exhibit various morphological aspects. The crystalline structure of whewellite at the atomic scale was revisited through a single-crystal neutron study at room temperature using a four-circle automated diffractometer. The possible relationships between the various morphological types of whewellite stones and their structural characteristics were examined at the mesoscopic scale by the use of scanning electron microscopy and at the nanometric scale by powder neutron diffraction. All types of whewellite stones displayed a similar structure at the nanometric scale. However, significant differences were found at the mesoscopic scale. In particular, the crystallites in kidney stones resulting from a genetic hyperoxaluria exhibited a peculiar structure. There was a close relationship between stone morphology and crystallite organization at the mesoscopic level and the effectiveness of extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy.