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A history of urolithiasis risk in space
Department of Urology, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, Wisconsin, USA
Jun  2020 (Vol.  27, Issue  3, Pages( 10233 - 10237)
PMID: 32544046


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    The development of renal stones in space would not only impact the health of an astronaut but could critically affect the success of the mission.


    We reviewed the medical literature, texts and multimedia sources regarding the careers of Dr. Abraham Cockett and Dr. Peggy Whitson and their contributions to the study of urolithiasis in space, as well as the studies in between both of their careers that helped to further characterize the risks of stone formation in space.


    Dr. Abraham T. K. Cockett (1928-2011) was Professor and Chair of the Department of Urology at the University of Rochester and served as AUA President (1994-1995). In 1962, Dr. Cockett was one of the first to raise a concern regarding astronauts potentially forming renal stones in space and suggested multiple prophylactic measures to prevent stone formation. Many of the early studies in this field used immobilized patients as a surrogate to a micro-gravity environment to mimic the bone demineralization that could occur in space in order to measure changes in urinary parameters. Dr. Peggy A. Whitson (1960-), is a biochemistry researcher and former NASA astronaut. She carried out multiple studies examining renal stone risk during short term space shuttle flights and later during long-duration Shuttle-Mir missions.


    From the early vision of Dr. Cockett to the astronaut studies of Dr. Whitson, we have a better understanding of the risks of urolithiasis in space, resulting in preventive measures for urolithiasis in future long duration space exploration.