January 16, 2017

Background: Ureteric (renal) colic is a common, painful condition encountered in the Emergency Department (ED). Sustained contraction of smooth muscle in the ureter as a kidney stone passes the length of the ureter leads to pain. The majority of stones will pass spontaneously (i.e. without urologic intervention). For over a decade, calcium channel blockers (i.e. nifedipine) and, more commonly, alpha adrenoreceptor antagonists (i.e. tamsulosin) have been employed in the treatment of ureteric colic for their potential ability to increase stone passage, reduce pain medication use and reduce urologic interventions. These interventions were mostly based on poor methodologic studies and meta-analyses of these flawed studies.

Over the past 3-4 years, a small number of higher-quality RCTs have been published (Ferre 2009, Pickard 2015, Furyk 2016). These studies have demonstrated a lack of benefit for routine use of alpha blockers. However, secondary outcomes suggest a possible benefit in larger stones (> 6 mm). In spite of recent multiple studies, the use of alpha blockers remains an area of active debate.

August 6, 2015

Back in August 2014, we posted an in depth review on medical expulsion therapy (MET) with tamsulosin in patients with renal colic. The summary of that post was:

“Clearly, there is disagreement in the literature. None of the studies are ideal. We continue to lack a large, RDCT done on patients presenting to the Emergency Department with renal colic.

The best evidence we have DOES NOT show a significant benefit to the use of tamsulosin in renal colic.”

Since that post, two well done RDCTs were published so we thought a brief review of each of these articles and updated recommendations were warranted.

August 7, 2014

Renal colic is a common ED presentation. Rarely does a day go by that we don’t see a patient rocking and rolling in acute renal colic. Dan Firestone makes an impassioned argument against the use of CT scanning for diagnosis of renal colic so I won’t address that here. Once we make a diagnosis, our primary goal in the ED is pain relief. Then we turn our attention to disposition planning, follow up and outpatient medications. The majority (90%) of stones will pass spontaneously but it would be nice if we could:
  1. increase the passage rate
  2. shorten the time to passage.
This could potentially reduce ED revisits, reduce the number of invasive procedures and make happy patients. So does the use of tamsulosin in renal colic facilitate stone passage?
0