What Are Randall's Plaques?

Written by dan harkins
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What Are Randall's Plaques?
Some humans are more sucseptible to kidney stones than others. (Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

If you've ever passed a kidney stone, you may curse the day you ever heard of Randall's plaques, the precursor for many who suffer this painful ailment. Though these calcified plaques can be reduced through targeted treatment, scientists still aren't sure what causes them to form in the first place.

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An American urologist named Alexander Randall discovered these calcified deposits in the beginning of the 20th century. Forming primarily atop the papillar region of the kidneys, these tan-coloured growths of soft tissue can extend well into the body of the kidney as well. Though scientists agree that these Randall's plaques greatly contribute to the formation of stones in the urinary tract, the story of their creation is still unwritten.

Location and Composition

This sub-papilla area of the kidney, where the Randall's plaques form, serves as a prime location for the crystallisation of calcium into a material known as "carbonated apatite," which contains both calcium phosphate and calcium carbonate. Though doctors can identify this material during endoscopic surgery, as well as with an X-ray, the Medcyclopaedia cites a CAT scan as the most accurate method of identifying Randall's plaques.

How They Fit In

Hypertension in the family is the only condition that regularly accompanies the formation of Randall's plaques, states Medcyclopaedia. When present in abnormal quantities, the material provides a chemical breeding ground for the raw materials that make up a kidney stone. Studies show that elevated levels of the "amorphous carbonated calcium phosphate" (ACCP) can be result from an excessive level of calcium or a high pH level, especially in young children, though these findings are inconclusive at this time.

No Cure

A genetic predisposition to developing excessive levels of Randall's plaques means that whether you get a kidney stone may depend merely on whether it runs in your family. But doctors do recommend various nutrients that have been proven to stymie the development of stones. According to the National Institutes of Health, drinking at least two quarts of water daily can help keep ACCP levels less concentrated. And though ingestion of calcium in natural form such as milk has shown no correlation to calcium stone generation, ingesting calcium supplements in pill form has shown this kind of correlation.

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