Unenhanced helical CT of ureteral stones: incidence of associated urinary tract findings

D S Katz, M J Lane, F G Sommer
AJR. American Journal of Roentgenology 1996, 166 (6): 1319-22

OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to determine the incidence of urinary tract findings associated with ureteral stones on unenhanced helical CT scans of patients with acute renal colic.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: One hundred forty-one consecutive patients with suspected renal colic were referred by the emergency department for a helical CT scan that was obtained without oral or IV contrast. The CT scans of 54 of these patients were interpreted as positive for ureteral calculi, and these CT scans were reviewed retrospectively. The size and location of each ureteral calculus and of any concurrent urinary tract calculi were recorded. The presence or absence of hydronephrosis, hydroureter, perinephric edema or soft-tissue stranding, and periureteral edema was also noted.

RESULTS: We reviewed the original 5-mm axial images from the 54 CT scans. Calculi were present in the proximal, mid, and distal ureter in eight, four, and 14 patients respectively, and at the ureterovesicular junction in 28 patients. Only two patients had more than one ureteral calculus, and none had a contralateral ureteral calculus. Concurrent renal parenchymal and/or nonobstructing calculi in the renal pelvis were seen in five patients with proximal, mid, or distal ureteral stones and in 16 patients with ureterovesicular junction stones. Hydronephrosis was found in 37 patients, hydroureter in 36 patients, and perinephric soft-tissue changes in 35 patients. Periureteral edema could not be evaluated in the 28 patients with ureterovesicular junction calculi because of the adjacent bladder, but periureteral edema was clearly seen immediately adjacent to the ureteral stone in 17 of the other 26 patients. Only two of the 54 patients had no evidence of hydronephrosis, hydroureter, or perinephric soft-tissue changes.

CONCLUSION: In patients with ureteral calculi imaged with unenhanced CT for acute renal colic, associated findings included hydronephrosis, hydroureter, perinephric soft-tissue changes, and periureteral edema. These common findings provided supportive evidence that an acute obstructive process was present.

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