What is the role of antidiuretic therapy in the emergency treatment of nephrolithiasis?

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

Several studies have now demonstrated that desmopressin (DDAVP), a potent antidiuretic that is essentially an antidiuretic hormone, can dramatically reduce the pain of acute renal colic in many patients. Though it is not considered standard of care nor has been included in the current AUA or EUA guidelines, it does show potential in certain settings. It acts quickly, has no apparent adverse effects, reduces the need for supplemental analgesic medications, and may be the only immediate therapy necessary for some patients. It is available as a nasal spray (usual dose of 40 mcg, with 10 mcg per spray) and as an IV injection (4 mcg/mL, with 1 mL the usual dose). Generally, only 1 dose is administered.

Animal studies have demonstrated a significant reduction in mean intraureteral pressure after an acute obstruction in subjects administered desmopressin compared with controls. In human studies, approximately 50% of 126 patients tested had complete relief of their acute renal colic pain within 30 minutes after the administration of intranasal desmopressin without any analgesic medication. For patients in whom desmopressin therapy failed, suitable analgesics were administered. No adverse effects from the antidiuretic medication occurred.

Although desmopressin is thought to work by reducing the intraureteral pressure, it may also have some direct relaxing effect on the renal pelvic and ureteral musculature. A central analgesic effect through the release of hypothalamic beta-endorphins has been proposed but remains unproved. Whether this therapy significantly affects eventual stone passage is unknown.

While some of the human studies lack adequate controls and further studies must be conducted, desmopressin therapy currently appears to be a promising alternative or adjunct to analgesic medications in patients with acute renal colic, especially in patients in whom narcotics cannot be used or in whom the pain is unusually resistant to standard medical treatment.


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