Detecting Kidney Stones Using Twinkling Artifacts: Survey of Kidney Stones with Varying Composition and Size

Benjamin G. Wood, Matthew W. Urban

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


In recent years, work has been done to understand the mechanisms of Doppler ultrasound twinkling artifacts (TAs) and why they appear over kidney stones. In the work described here, twinkling artifacts were evaluated as a possible method of locating and characterizing kidney stones. Doppler ultrasound scanning was used to evaluate 47 stones of different types and sizes in the range 1.31–55.76 mm2 in cross-sectional area (average = 9.65 mm2). An isolated stone study was used to understand the behavior of the TAs. An ex vivo kidney study was conducted to determine if the renal tissue impeded localization of the TAs to the stones. An ex vivo study of randomly placed stones was used to evaluate the robustness of the method for detecting stones that were placed by an independent party. The TAs were found to be qualitatively consistent in appearance across stone types, sizes and scanning parameters in the isolated stone study. Quantitative assessment of TA amplitude for isolated stones was also found to be consistent for each class of stones across multiple days. The TAs were also found to be isolated to the stone when placed in an ex vivo kidney. The study of randomly placed stones revealed that this method could find all 47 stones used in a clinical situation with only two false positives. A few limitations to this method were noted involving accurate sizing of stones and the specificity of characterizing the stones. Further work will be done to overcome limitations by improving the Doppler acquisition and processing code, as well as by evaluating the use of TAs in human studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)156-166
Number of pages11
JournalUltrasound in Medicine and Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2020


  • Doppler ultrasound
  • Kidney stones
  • Twinkling artifact

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Biophysics
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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