The efficacy of urinalysis, plain films, and spiral CT in ED patients with suspected renal colic

Oktay Eray, Metin S Cubuk, Cem Oktay, Saim Yilmaz, Yildiray Cete, F Fevzi Ersoy
American Journal of Emergency Medicine 2003, 21 (2): 152-4
We determined the diagnostic value of urinalysis and plain films in patients with suspected renal colic presenting to an emergency department (ED). Over a 1-year period, 138 patients presented to the ED during the daytime with suspected renal colic, but for technical reasons the diagnostic modalities used in the study could be completed for only 99 patients, and 34 patients were lost to follow-up. A urinalysis; kidney, ureter, and bladder film; and spiral computed tomography (CT) were performed on each patient. The presence of urinary tract stones was determined by their definite presence on helical CT and/or passage of a stone on clinical follow-up (average follow-up = 3 months). A urinary stone was visualized on spiral CT or passed in the urine in 54 of the patients. Using helical CT findings or passage of a stone as the gold standard, plain radiography had a sensitivity of 69% and specificity of 82%. Urinalysis had a sensitivity of 69% and specificity of 27%. The sensitivity increased to 89% if either test was positive, but the specificity remained low at 27%. The sensitivity and specificity of CT in the diagnosis of urinary stones was 91%. Urinalysis and plain films are much less accurate than helical CT for confirming the diagnosis of acute urolithiasis. Further evaluation of the clinical and cost-effectiveness of helical CT should be done to determine its role in the work-up of these patients.

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