Sticks and stones…

We have all heard about kidney stones, but what other parts of our bodies produce stones?

The stomach:  The stomach can make a stone called a “bezoar”.  This occurs when something is eaten that can’t be digested, and is sometimes caused by patients with mental illness who eat substances that are not food.  Minerals then form around the stone and it becomes a stony concretion in the stomach.

The ears:  The ears normally produce tiny stones called “otoliths” in the inner ear canals.  These are made of calcium carbonate, and actually serve a purpose, as they float around in the ear canal fluid and tell us if we are moving up, down, or sideways.  However, it is thought that when these tiny stones become lodged in the wrong place, they can actually cause vertigo!

The gallbladder:  The gallbladder forms stones from excessive cholesterol and bile, and these stones can become as big as a golfball.  This can result in severe pain, requiring surgery.

The salivary glands:  The salivary glands can make stones, such as Parotid Duct stones, that can cause the glands to swell, and can block saliva from entering the mouth.

The appendix:  The appendix can make a stone called an “appendicolith” from undigested matter and minerals.  This can actually cause appendicitis.

The tonsils:  The tonsils in the back of our throat can have nooks and crannies where dead cells and mucous can become trapped, causing tonsil stones or “tonsilloliths”.    This is more common in people who get recurrent tonsil infections.  This can create stones that sometimes have to be removed, or the patient may have to undergo tonsillectomy.

Tonsil stones:

tonsil stone

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