Detailed information on the structure and composition of gallstones was obtained using an electron probe microanalyser in conjunction with the other methods. Gallstones were studied layer by layer without greatly disturbing the arrangement of the materials present. Elements, including trace elements such as copper, iron, and manganese, were identified and their distributions mapped. The range of the method was extended to determine the character and distribution of certain chemical groups present by treating sections of gallstone with reagents which contained easily detected elements. The nature of the bonding of the sulphur in the stones was studied by examining the sulphur-X-ray spectrum. Pigmented sulphur-containing deposits were found to contain sulphur in a low valence state but taurine conjugates and the sulphate groups of mucosubstances were not detected. Microcrystalline apatite present in the stones contained some manganese and seemed to be implicated in the absorption of the low valence sulphur compound and in the nucleation of some stones.
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