What is the initial emergency care for renal colic in nephrolithiasis?

Updated: Jun 21, 2018
  • Author: Chirag N Dave, MD; Chief Editor: Bradley Fields Schwartz, DO, FACS  more...
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Answer

Initial treatment of a renal colic patient in the ED starts with obtaining IV access to allow fluid, analgesic, and antiemetic medications to be administered. Many of these patients are dehydrated from poor oral intake and vomiting. Although the role of supranormal hydration in the management of renal (ureteral) colic is controversial (see below), patients who are dehydrated or ill need adequate restoration of circulating volume.

After diagnosing renal (ureteral) colic, determine the presence or absence of obstruction or infection. Obstruction in the absence of infection can be initially managed with analgesics and with other medical measures to facilitate passage of the stone. Infection in the absence of obstruction can be initially managed with antimicrobial therapy. In either case, promptly refer the patient to a urologist.

If neither obstruction nor infection is present, analgesics and other medical measures to facilitate passage of the stone (see below) can be initiated with the expectation that the stone will likely pass from the upper urinary tract if its diameter is smaller than 10 mm (larger stones are more likely to require surgical measures).

If both obstruction and infection are present, emergency decompression of the upper urinary collecting system is required (see Surgical Care). In addition, immediately consult with a urologist for patients whose pain fails to respond to ED management.


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