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J Urol. 2006 May;175(5):1737-41; discussion 1741.

Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation: an effective treatment for pain caused by renal colic in emergency care.

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  • 1Department of Anesthesia and Intensive Care, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.



Acute renal colic is one of the most anguishing forms of pain in humans. We hypothesized that TENS is an effective pain treatment in patients with acute renal colic.


A total of 100 patients with acute flank pain and suspected renal colic consented to participate in our study. Paramedic 1 recorded baseline parameters at the emergency site and at the end of transportation. Paramedic 2 performed TENS in patients randomly assigned to G1 with actual TENS or to G2 with sham TENS. Pain and anxiety were measured using paper based visual analog scales on a scale of 0 to 100 mm.


Of 100 screened patients 73 had renal colic, including 39 in G1 and 34 in G2. There was no significant difference with regard to potentially influencing factors, such as patient age, sex, weight, height, blood pressure and heart rate, pain, nausea and anxiety between the groups before treatment. G1 showed a significant mean pain decrease +/- SD of more than 50% (85.7 +/- 10.5 to 33.3 +/- 16.0 mm, p <0.01). G2 showed no variation in mean pain scores (85.8 +/- 18.0 to 82.6 +/- 14.3 mm). G1 showed changes in the mean anxiety score (69.0 +/- 8.4 to 37.7 +/- 15.1 mm, p <0.01), nausea score (90.7 +/- 9.2 to 44.9 +/- 22.0 mm) and heart rate (92 +/- 10 to 64 +/- 8 bpm), while G2 showed nonsignificant changes.


This trial shows that local TENS is a rapid and effective treatment for renal colic pain. We found TENS to be a good nondrug therapy under the difficult circumstances of out of hospital rescue.

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