J Clin Pathol doi:10.1136/jclinpath-2012-201373
  • Original article

Who makes uric acid stones and why—observations from a renal stones clinic

  1. Valerie Walker1
  1. 1Department of Clinical Biochemistry, University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, Southampton, UK
  2. 2Department of Clinical Biochemistry, Galway University Hospital, Galway, Republic of Ireland
  1. Correspondence to Dr Valerie Walker, Department of Clinical Biochemistry, Southampton General Hospital (SUHT), C Level MP 6, South Block, Tremona Road, Southampton SO16 6YD, UK; valerie.walker{at}
  • Received 28 November 2012
  • Revised 8 January 2013
  • Accepted 28 January 2013
  • Published Online First 1 March 2013


Aims Excessively acidic urine is the dominant factor in uric acid stone formation. Recent evidence implicating insulin resistance has revived interest in its causation. We reviewed data on uric acid stone formers attending a general stones clinic to find out whether this supports and adds to current concepts.

Methods A retrospective database study of 1504 stone formers investigated at the Southampton renal stones clinic from 1990 to March 2007. Uric acid stone formers and idiopathic calcium stone formers were compared using non-parametric tests.

Results Fifty-nine patients (3.9%; 43 men) had uric acid stones. In men the commonest associated conditions were diabetes (20%), gout (20%) and an ileostomy (15%); in women, diabetes (33%), urinary infections (27%) and hyperparathyroidism (20%). Most patients with diabetes (85% of men, 75% of women), however, produced calcium stones. Risk factors did not differ significantly between calcium and uric acid stone formers with diabetes, gout or ileostomies. The median urine pH of men with idiopathic calcium stones was 6.20, idiopathic uric acid stones 5.47, diabetes 5.68, gout 6.05, diabetes and gout 5.20 and ileostomy 5.10. Plasma urate was higher with gout and idiopathic uric acid stones. Urate excretion was increased in gout. Oxalate excretion was lower with idiopathic uric acid stones (new finding). Urine volume decreased and oxalate concentration increased with ileostomy.

Conclusions Uric acid stones are increased in diabetes, but most patients with diabetes make calcium stones. Different mechanisms may explain low pH with diabetes, gout and idiopathic stones. Low oxalate excretion with idiopathic urate stones needs confirmation.

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