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Arab J Urol. 2017 Apr 18;15(2):83-93. doi: 10.1016/j.aju.2017.03.005. eCollection 2017 Jun.

Medical expulsive therapy for ureteric stones: Analysing the evidence from systematic reviews and meta-analysis of powered double-blinded randomised controlled trials.

Author information

Glasgow Royal Infirmary, Glasgow, UK.
Bristol Urological Institutes, North Bristol NHS Trust, Bristol, UK.
New Cross Hospital, Wolverhampton, UK.
University Hospitals Southampton NHS Trust, Southampton, UK.
Queen Elizabeth University Hospitals, Glasgow, UK.
Islamic Universities of Gaza, College of Medicine, Gaza, Palestine.



To conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis investigating the efficacy and safety of medical expulsive therapy (MET) in low risk of bias (RoB) randomised controlled trials (RCTs).


A Cochrane style systematic review was conducted on published literature from 1990 to 2016, to include low RoB and a power calculation. A pooled meta-analysis was conducted.


The MET group included 1387 vs 1381 patients in the control group. The analysis reveals α-blockers increased stone expulsion rates (78% vs 74%) (P < 0.001), whilst calcium channel blockers (CCBs) had no effect compared to controls (79% vs 75%) (P = 0.38). In the subgroup analysis, α-blockers had a shorter time to stone expulsion vs the control group (P < 0.001). There were no significant differences in expulsion rates between the treatment groups and control group for stones <5 mm in size (P = 0.48), proximal or mid-ureteric stones (P = 0.63 and P = 0.22, respectively). However, α-blockers increased stone expulsion in stones >5 mm (P = 0.02), as well as distal ureteric stones (P < 0.001). The α-blocker group developed more side-effects (6.6% of patients; P < 0.001). The numbers needed to treat for α-blockers was one in 14, for stones >5 mm one in eight, and for distal stones one in 10.


The primary findings show a small overall benefit for α-blockers as MET for ureteric stones but no benefit with CCBs. α-blockers show a greater benefit for large (>5 mm) ureteric stones and those located in the distal ureter, but no benefit for smaller or more proximal stones. α-blockers are associated with a greater risk of side-effects compared to placebo or CCBs.


ARR, absolute risk reduction; CCB, calcium channel blocker; Calcium channel blockers; MD, mean difference; MET, medical expulsive therapy; MeSH, medical subject headings; Medical expulsive therapy (MET); NNT, numbers needed to treat; RCT, randomised controlled trial; RR, risk ratio; RoB, risk of bias; Ureteric stones; Urinary stones; α-Blockers

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