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Time History of Human Gallstones: Application of the Post-Bomb Radiocarbon Signal

Ellen M. Druffel, Henry I. Mok


Bomb-produced 14C is a valuable tool for studying rates of short-term processes involving carbon cycling. This study shows that bomb 14C is an excellent tracer of a biochemical process that takes place in the human body, namely the accretion of stones in the gallbladder. The methods developed for obtaining time histories of 14C/12C and 13C/12C in concentric layers from a large gallstone (30mm diameter) are reported. Formation times are assigned by 14C/12C obtained from individual layers witbhy mtahtocshei ngf otuhned for known-aged tree rings. Results show that the gallstone grew over a period of 10 years and seems to have lain dormant within the gallbladder for a period of 11 years. The average growth rate was 1.5mm/year.

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