Renal stone risk assessment during space shuttle flights

Peggy A. Whitson, Robert A. Pietrzyk, Charles Y C Pak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


Purpose: The metabolic and environmental factors influencing renal stone formation before, during, and after Space Shuttle flights were assessed. We established the contributing roles of dietary factors in relationship to the urinary risk factors associated with renal stone formation. Materials and Methods: 24-hr. urine samples were collected prior to, during space flight, and following landing. Urinary and dietary factors associated with renal stone formation were analyzed and the relative urinary supersaturation of calcium oxalate, calcium phosphate (brushite), sodium urate, struvite and uric acid were calculated. Results: Urinary composition changed during flight to favor the crystallization of calcium-forming salts. Factors that contributed to increased potential for stone formation during space flight were significant reductions in urinary pH and increases in urinary calcium. Urinary output and citrate, a potent inhibitor of calcium-containing stones, were slightly reduced during space flight. Dietary intakes were significantly reduced for a number of variables, including fluid, energy, protein, potassium, phosphorus and magnesium. Conclusions: This is the first in- flight characterization of the renal stone forming potential in astronauts. With the examination of urinary components and nutritional factors, it was possible to determine the factors that contributed to increased risk or protected from risk. In spite of the protective components, the negative contributions to renal stone risk predominated and resulted in a urinary environment that favored the supersaturation of stone-forming salts. Dietary and pharmacologic therapies need to be assessed to minimize the potential for renal stone formation in astronauts during/after space flight.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2305-2310
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Urology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1997


  • Renal stone
  • Risk assessment
  • Space flight

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urology


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