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Ann Emerg Med. 2007 Nov;50(5):552-63. Epub 2007 Aug 3.

A systematic review of medical therapy to facilitate passage of ureteral calculi.

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Department of Emergency Medicine, Alameda County Medical Center-Highland Hospital, Oakland, CA 94602, USA.



Acute renal colic is a common presenting complaint to the emergency department. Recently, medical expulsive therapy using alpha-antagonists or calcium channel blockers has been shown to augment stone passage rates of moderately sized, distal, ureteral stones. Herein is a systematic evaluation of the use of medical expulsive therapy to facilitate ureteral stone expulsion.


We searched the databases of MEDLINE, EMBASE, and the Cochrane Controlled Trials Register. Additional sources included key urologic journals and bibliographies of selected articles. We included studies that incorporated a randomized or controlled clinical trial design, patients older than 18 years, treatment in which an alpha-antagonist or calcium channel blocker was compared to a standard therapy group, and studies that reported stone expulsion rates. A random effects model was used to obtain summary risk ratios (RRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for stone expulsion rate.


A pooled analysis of 16 studies using an alpha-antagonist and 9 studies using a calcium channel blocker suggested that the addition of these agents compared to standard therapy significantly improved spontaneous stone expulsion (alpha-antagonist RR 1.59; 95% CI 1.44 to 1.75; number needed to treat 3.3 [95% CI 2.1 to 4.5]; calcium channel blocker RR 1.50; 95% CI 1.34 to 1.68; number needed to treat 3.9 [95% CI 3.2 to 4.6]) in patients with distal ureteral stones. Subgroup analysis of trials using concomitant medications (ie, low-dose steroids, antibiotics, and elimination of trials using an anticholinergic agent) yielded a similar improvement in stone expulsion rate. Adverse effects were noted in 4% of patients receiving alpha-antagonist and in 15.2% of patients receiving calcium channel blockers.


Our results suggest that "medical expulsive therapy," using either alpha-antagonists or calcium channel blockers, augments the stone expulsion rate compared to standard therapy for moderately sized distal ureteral stones.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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