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Uric Acid Nephrolithiasis: A Systemic Metabolic Disorder


Uric acid nephrolithiasis is characteristically a manifestation of a systemic metabolic disorder. It has a prevalence of about 10% among all stone formers, the third most common type of kidney stone in the industrialized world. Uric acid stones form primarily due to an unduly acid urine; less deciding factors are hyperuricosuria and a low urine volume. The vast majority of uric acid stone formers have the metabolic syndrome, and not infrequently, clinical gout is present as well. A universal finding is a low baseline urine pH plus insufficient production of urinary ammonium buffer. Persons with gastrointestinal disorders, in particular chronic diarrhea or ostomies, and patients with malignancies with a large tumor mass and high cell turnover comprise a less common but nevertheless important subset. Pure uric acid stones are radiolucent but well visualized on renal ultrasound or computer tomography. A 24 h urine collection for stone risk analysis provides essential insight into the pathophysiology of stone formation and may guide therapy. Management includes a liberal fluid intake and dietary modification. Potassium citrate to alkalinize the urine to a goal pH between 6 and 6.5 is essential, as undissociated uric acid deprotonates into its much more soluble urate form.

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Correspondence to Michael R. Wiederkehr.

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Wiederkehr, M.R., Moe, O.W. Uric Acid Nephrolithiasis: A Systemic Metabolic Disorder. Clinic Rev Bone Miner Metab 9, 207–217 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12018-011-9106-6

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  • Uric acid nephrolithiasis
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Gout
  • Acid urine
  • Hyperuricosuria
  • pH
  • Urine buffer
  • Ammonium
  • Alkaline
  • Potassium citrate