Sixty-four combination spectra of three major gallstone components [i.e., cholesterol, calcium bilirubinate, and calcium carbonate (aragonite)] were simulated in accordance with a "fractal" ternary diagram. Comparison between the original pattern of composition and factorial maps of pretreated spectra makes it possible to show the effects of different normalization procedures (Euclidean norm, spectrum maximum, and area under spectrum set to 1). Cluster analysis of these spectra, depending on different agglomerative links (single linkage, complete linkage, average linkage, and Ward's criterion), was carried out. All the resultant trees yield the same groups, but Ward's criterion best preserves the pattern of the data. More than 100 gallstones from France and Vietnam were classified by using cluster analysis of their FT-IR spectra with Ward's criterion. Seven homogeneous groups of spectra were extracted, which have been significantly correlated to the four morphological types of gallstones: pure cholesterol, mixed cholesterol, brown pigment, and black pigment stones. This analysis also reveals that the morphological groups are not homogeneous in composition, in particular for black pigment stones.

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