Nephrol Ther. 2015 Jun;11(3):174-90. doi: 10.1016/j.nephro.2015.03.003. Epub 2015 Apr 28.
[Article in French]


Crystalluria is the presence of crystals in urine. It results from excessive supersaturation and may induce kidney problems such as nephrolithiasis, nephrocalcinosis and sometimes acute or chronic kidney impairment able to result in end stage renal failure. Crystalluria is not, per se, a marker of a pathologic condition. For distinguishing between physiologic and pathologic crystalluria, various criteria may be considered (1) either related to the sample such as urine pH, crystal identity, crystal habit, abundance of the crystals, aggregation and also the occurrence of crystalluria judged on serial samples, (2) or related to the clinical context such as nephrolithiasis, nephrocalcinosis or renal failure. The choice of the sample and the pre-analytical conditions are critical to validate the results from a clinical point of view. In our experience, the first morning urine sample is often the best one to assess, through the crystalluria analysis, the main metabolic factors involved in the crystal and stone formation. The storage of urine sample should be less than two hours at room temperature following the voiding. Crystalluria examination allows identifying simply monogenic crystallogenetic pathologies, providing explanation for acute renal failure related to drug intake, helping the physician for identifying the main metabolic disorders involved in stone formation and assessing the efficacy of preventive measures proposed to avoid stone recurrence in stone former patients. Crystalluria study is by far the best marker for predicting stone recurrence during the follow-up of stone formers, offering the opportunity to adjust dietary advices or drug management and thus to prevent stone formation. In conclusion, crystalluria examination is a major tool for the diagnosis and the management of most lithogenetic diseases and pathologic conditions responsible for intratubular crystal formation and renal impairment.

Keywords: Calcium oxalate; Calcium phosphate; Cristallurie; Crystal habit; Crystalluria; Cysteine; Cystine; Diagnostic étiologique; Dihydroxyadenine; Dihydroxyadénine; Etiological diagnosis; Faciès cristallin; Oxalate de calcium; Phosphate de calcium; Struvite.

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / chemistry
  • Biomarkers / urine*
  • Crystallization
  • Humans
  • Kidney Calculi* / diagnosis
  • Kidney Calculi* / urine
  • Nephrocalcinosis* / diagnosis
  • Nephrocalcinosis* / urine


  • Biomarkers