It looks like something the Clangers might have unearthed on the Moon. But this bizarre-looking object is a bladder stone — a lump of minerals that forms when the bladder isn’t fully emptied.
This image is from Figure 1, a website where doctors around the world share medical images and canvass colleagues’ opinion.
Not surprisingly, this particular stone had left the patient, a 63-year-old man, in some pain – it was 4cm by 4cm in size.The bad news for men is that they are much more prone to bladder stones — they account for 95 per cent of cases, according to a paper in the journal Obstetrics and Gynaecology.The stones usually occur as a result of an enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH), which is common in men over 50.
The prostate is a doughnut-shaped gland that sits around the urethra below the bladder.
As men age, it becomes larger, possibly as a result of hormonal changes. In turn, a man may find it difficult to fully empty his bladder.As urine becomes trapped, over time the minerals that should be excreted build up, forming lumps.Sometimes, but particularly in men suffering with BPH (though it’s not clear why), the stone forms in a bizarre shape such as seen here; these are known as jackstones, due to their resemblance to toy jacks.
While some men won’t have any symptoms — their stones are discovered during an X-ray or scan for another medical condition — others will suffer pain in the bladder area, blood in the urine, cloudy urine or difficulty passing it.Bladder stones smaller than 1cm may pass out in the urine. But bigger stones such as this one, which is 4cm by 4cm, need surgery.
This picture was posted by Dr Oktay Ozman, a urologist at the Cerrahpaşa Medical Faculty in Istanbul.
He explains that the patient had come to him complaining of pain in his pelvis, slow urination and blood in his urine (caused by the spikes damaging the bladder wall).
Tests, including a cystoscopy, where a thin, flexible tube with a camera on the end is inserted into the urethra (which carries urine out of the body), revealed he had an enlarged prostate.
‘It’s impossible to say for how long he’d had the stone,’ says Dr Ozman. ‘It was quite big, but I have seen some that are 7cm.’
The patient had surgery to remove the stone and his prostate. ‘He spent a week with the stone in his pocket showing it to everyone and then donated it to us,’ says Dr Ozman.
‘It’s one of the most beautiful jackstones I’ve seen.’
The good news? A year on, the patient is said to be doing well.
Research shows the best way to prevent bladder stones is to drink plenty of fluid. Urinating in a sitting position may help empty the bladder more effectively.