Yes, you read that right — doctors removed a bladder stone the size of a grapefruit that had developed in a man's neobladder. A man in California visited his doctors complaining about pain on his left side, and when you see the stone up close, it's pretty obvious why he was hurting.
According to the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), the 64-year-old reported difficulties urinating — a common symptom of bladder stones. Doctors scanned the senior's abdomen and pelvis and discovered not only the one-and-a-half pound stone in his bladder but also a smaller stone in his ureter, which is the tube that transports urine from the kidney to the bladder.
A decade earlier the man battled bladder cancer and had his bladder removed. As a result, he had a neobladder constructed; neobladders are more susceptible to bladder stones. Fortunately, NEJM reported no complications during the surgery, and doctors will continue to monitor the man to ensure no future bladder stones occur.
What is a neobladder?
When doctors remove a person's bladder, they must create a replacement. Doctors will use a portion of the patient's intestine. Because the intestine normally produces mucus, when it is used as a bladder, it will still create mucus. A common risk of neobladders is that the mucus will lead to bladder stones, as was the case for the man mentioned at the beginning.
What causes bladder stones?
A bladder stone is a mass of crystallized urine and minerals that occurs when the bladder doesn't fully empty. They are often caused by either infection — like urinary tract infections — or underlying conditions — such as an enlarged prostate or nerve damage — that affects the bladder's ability to empty itself.
What's the world's largest bladder stone?
Fun fact: The world's largest bladder stone was removed in 2003 from a man in Brazil. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, then-62-year-old José de Castro da Silva holds the record with his 4.2-pound bladder stone.