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Image of the Week: Kidney stone

14 Mar, 2014

Kidney stone

The winners of the Wellcome Image Awards 2014 were announced earlier this week at a ceremony held on 11th March. One of the newly crowned winners is this beautifully coloured scanning electron micrograph of a kidney stone taken from the body of the image’s creator, Kevin Mackenzie.

Believe it or not, this wasn’t the only case where one of the winning images involved the creator imaging bits of their own body. Clinical photographer Ashley Prytherch photographed a tick burrowing its feeding parts into the skin of his leg after looking for signs of life in his garden pond.

Kidney stones form when salts, minerals and chemicals in the urine (for example calcium oxalate and uric acid) clump together and solidify. They can vary in size, with the body often being able to pass small kidney stones naturally. Larger stones sometimes get stuck in the kidney or in the tubes that carry urine out of the body. If a stone cannot be passed naturally it may need to be surgically removed or broken up. Kidney stones can cause a lot of discomfort and pain, and in some cases can lead to infection.

Kidney stones are normally millimetres in size; however, according to the ‘Guinness Book of Records’, the largest recorded kidney stone measured 13cm at its widest point. It was removed from the left kidney of Vilas Ghuge by Dr Hemendra Shah on 18 February 2004 in Mumbai, India. The size of the stone in this image is somewhat smaller than that, at 2 mm.

Catherine Draycott, Head of Wellcome Images, explains why this image was chosen as one of the winners: “The beautiful image of the kidney stone looks paradoxically like something from another galaxy with its dark and subtle colours and sense of floating weightless in space. In reality, far from floating, these jagged particles can make an excruciating path through the tiny vessels in the body.”

Kevin manages the Microscopy and Histology Core Facility at the University of Aberdeen’s Institute of Medical Sciences. He has worked in the microscopy field for more than 34 years across a wide range of disciplines including anatomy, zoology and plant science.

Image credit: Kevin Mackenzie, University of Aberdeen, Wellcome Images

Wellcome Images is one of the world’s richest and most unusual collections, with themes ranging from medical and social history to contemporary healthcare and biomedical science. All our images are available in digital form so please click the link above if you would like to use the picture that features in this post, or to quickly find related ones. Many are free to use non-commercially under the terms of a Creative Commons licence and full details of the specific licence for each image are provided.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. komarovstyle permalink
    14 Mar, 2014 8:22 am

    Harmful kidney stone for human body.

  2. vikram permalink
    9 May, 2014 2:16 pm

    kidney stones cause tremendous pain.

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