Staghorn Kidney Stones (Staghorn Calculi)

Staghorn kidney stones, also known as staghorn calculi, are commonly associated with struvite kidney stones. What staghorn really means is that the stone that is formed occupies parts of the kidney called the "renal pelvis" and two or more "calyces" and form an "antler-like" stone formation. Seventy-five percent of staghorn stones are of the struvite variety.

Struvite mineral stones (Magnesium Ammonium Phosphate) are formed due to a bacterial infection that causes urea to form ammonium thereby increasing the pH of the urine to an alkaline.

When this happens the bacteria fighting acids in the urine are neutralized and conditions are ripe for the formation of struvite crystalline stones.

Additional Resource: American Urological Association on Staghorn Kidney Stones:

"Staghorn calculi are most frequently composed of mixtures of magnesium ammonium phosphate (struvite) and/or calcium carbonate apatite. Stones composed of cystine or uric acid, either in pure form or mixed with other components, can also grow in a "staghorn" or branched configuration, but calcium oxalate or phosphate stones only rarely grow in this configuration. Struvite/calcium carbonate apatite stones also are referred to as "infection stones" because of their strong association with urinary tract infection caused by specific organisms that produce the enzyme urease that promotes the generation of ammonia and hydroxide from urea (Bruce & Griffith, 1981) 2. The resultant alkaline urinary environment and high ammonia concentration, along with abundant phosphate and magnesium in urine, promote crystallization of magnesium ammonium phosphate (struvite), leading to formation of large, branched stones. Other factors play a role, including the formation of an exopolysaccharide biofilm and the incorporation of mucoproteins and other organic compounds into this matrix. Cultures of "infection stone" fragments obtained from both the surface and inside of the stone have demonstrated that bacteria reside within the stone thereby causing the stone itself to be infected in contrast to stones made of other substances where the stones remain sterile inside 3. Repeated urinary tract infections with urea-splitting organisms may result in stone formation, and once an "infection stone" is present, infections tend to recur."

Read the rest here: AUA Guideline on the Management of Staghorn Calculi: Diagnosis and Treatment Recommendations

Staghorn Feedback

I would really like to have more feedback regarding staghorn and struvite kidney stones. If you or someone you know has had either variety please share your story and your pictures!

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