SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Kidney and obstructed ureter. X-ray of the abdomen of a 38-year-old man with an obstruction to his left ureter, secondary to a small calculus (stone) in the kidney. The injection of a contrast medium has highlighted the left kidney (lower right) and part of the ureter, the tube draining urine downwards from the kidney to the bladder. Places where the contrast medium fails to fill the kidney or ureter indicate the presence of a blockage. A kidney stone is formed by the precipitation of the mineral salt calcium oxalate from the urine. The resulting hard deposit may cause severe pain. A small stone may be passed spontaneously. A large stone may block the flow of urine and is removed surgically or by using sound waves, applied externally, which break it up.
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