Characterization of a submandibular gland sialolith: micromorphology, crystalline structure, and chemical compositions

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The aim of this study was to understand the mechanism of mineralization and growth of a sialolith by analyzing its micromorphology, crystalline structure, and chemical compositions.

Study Design.

A sialolith was removed along with submandibular salivary gland from a patient. After cross-cutting and polishing the sialolith, its morphology, chemical compositions, crystalline structure, and chemical states were analyzed by using optical camera, scanning electron microscopy, energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy, X-ray diffractometer, Fourier transform infrared spectrophotometer, and transmittance electron microscopy.


The sialolith had a core composed of organic material, such as lipid compounds, and the surrounding mineralized shell structure mostly consisted of hydroxyapatite. In the transition zone between the organic core and mineralized shell layers, inorganic layers were arranged alternately with organic layers. Congregated globular structures were calcified with hydroxyapatite and whitlockite crystallites. Analysis of crystalline structures and chemical compositions suggested that calcium phosphate minerals containing magnesium, such as whitlockite, were developed in the initial stage and gradually transformed into crystallites composed of hydroxyapatite during the growth of crystallites.


Sialolith with an organic core grew as inorganic materials were deposited and calcified in alternate layers. The mineralization process might include the initial whitlockite development and successive transformation into more stable hydroxyapatite.

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