Randomized prospective comparison of non-contrast enhanced helical computed tomography and intravenous urography in the diagnosis of acute ureteric colic

J A Homer, D L Davies-Payne, B S Peddinti
Australasian Radiology 2001, 45 (3): 285-90
Non-contrast enhanced helical CT has become an accepted technique for evaluating acute ureteric colic. The results of a randomized prospective comparison of the accuracy, cost and radiation dose of CT and intravenous urography (IVU) are presented. All patients presenting to the Emergency Department with symptoms and signs suggestive of ureteric colic over a 16-month period (n = 242) were randomized to CT or IVU. Follow up was obtained for 228 patients (94%), with 14 patients (6%) lost to follow up. One hundred and twenty-three patients (54%) underwent CT and 105 (46%) had an IVU. At follow up the sensitivity and specificity of CT were each 100%, while those of IVU were 99% and 100%, respectively. Computed tomography demonstrated seven of 26 (27%) potential alternative diagnoses, whereas IVU suggested one of 23 (4%). Estimates of the average effective dose were calculated for CT (4.95 mSv) and IVU (1.48 mSv, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.7-2.27). Radiation dose and intravenous contrast material safety are discussed and the relative costs are considered. Computed tomography is as accurate as IVU in the diagnosis of acute ureteric colic. It confers certain major diagnostic benefits, and is a fast, well-tolerated technique. Its accompanying higher effective radiation dose is recognized.

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