What Are the Different Types of Calculi?

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  • Written By: Clara Kedrek
  • Edited By: Jessica Seminara
  • Last Modified Date: 25 February 2020
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Calculi is a medical term used to describe different stones that can develop in the body. The singular form of this term is calculus. Calculi can form in the kidneys, bladder, gallbladder, gastrointestinal system, and salivary glands. In some cases, these acquired stones do not cause any symptoms. Sometimes, however, they can cause inflammation or obstruction.

Renal calculi, otherwise known as kidney stones, can be found in many people. They develop in the kidney and cause a significant amount of pain and distress when they pass through the body. The pain is worst when they travel from the kidney to the bladder through the ureters, and then pass from the bladder through the urethra to the outside of the body. Symptoms of passing a kidney stone include blood in the urine, groin pain, and pus in the urine.

A related type of calculi is bladder stones, which are rarer than kidney stones but are composed of similar substances. Instead of developing in the kidney, they develop directly in the bladder. Often these stones are larger than kidney stones, and are unable to exit the body through the urethra. They can still cause problems, however, by irritating the bladder and making affected patients have to urinate more frequently and with more urgency than normal.


Calculi can also be found in the gallbladder. These gallstones are very common, and can result from of a number of different diseases. Some gallstones are asymptomatic and do not cause any problems. Other patients may develop cholecystitis, which is the medical term for inflammation of the gallbladder. Acute cholecystitis results in symptoms such as pain in the upper right part of the abdomen, and the treatment of this condition might require surgery to remove the gallbladder.

The gastrointestinal tract is another site for the formation of calculi. These stones are referred to as enteroliths, and they can develop in various parts of the gastrointestinal system. One common place to find enteroliths is in the appendix; patients with stones in this structure can develop appendicitis, which is an inflammatory condition that causes pain in the lower abdomen. Diverticuli, which are acquired outpouchings of the wall of the intestines, can also accumulate stones. Inflammation caused by diverticular enteroliths can cause pain and fever.

Sialoliths, which is a term for calculi present in the salivary glands, can also occur in certain people. They can develop either in the salivary glands or the salivary ducts connecting the glands to the inside of the mouth. As with other stones, they can cause localized irritation and inflammation. Additionally, the sialoliths can sometimes plug the flow of saliva from the glands into the mouth, causing a backup of saliva into the glands, resulting in swelling.



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