Medical treatment of cystinuria: critical reappraisal of long-term results

J Urol. 2000 May;163(5):1419-23. doi: 10.1016/s0022-5347(05)67633-1.


Purpose: We evaluated long-term results of a contemporary medical therapeutic regimen in patients with cystinuria and analyzed factors predictive of therapeutic success.

Materials and methods: A total of 27 adults with cystine urolithiasis were treated at our institution for 1.3 to 32 years (mean 11.6, overall 312 patient-years). We obtained data on the pre-referral period for 274 patient-years overall. Basic therapy included hyperdiuresis and alkalization. The thiols D-penicillamine or tiopronin were added when standard therapy failed to prevent new stones and stone growth or dissolve preexisting stones. X-ray and echography were performed every 4 months during the initial 2 years and every 6 months thereafter.

Results: In the pre-referral period 256 stone episodes occurred and 81 urological procedures were performed in 24 patients (0.93 and 0. 29 per patient-year, respectively). Nine patients were treated with added thiols. During the therapeutic period the incidence of stone episodes decreased to 66 (0.20 per patient-year, p <0.001), while the need for urological procedures decreased to 44 (0.14 per patient-year, p <0.001). No further urological procedures were required in 15 patients, including 4 treated with thiols. However, the remaining 12 patients, including 5 treated with thiols, underwent 1 to 7 procedures each (mean 0.26 per patient-year). In the 2 groups mean daily cystine excretion plus or minus standard deviation at baseline (863 +/- 253 versus 761 +/- 270 mg. daily) and mean urinary pH of about 7.4 did not differ significantly. However, daily urine volume was significantly higher in patients with arrested stone formation (3,151 +/- 587 versus 2,446 +/- 654 ml./24 hours, p = 0.006).

Conclusions: Our study provides evidence that a regularly followed medical program based on high diuresis and alkalization with second line addition of thiols may arrest or markedly decrease cystine stone formation and preclude the need for urological procedures in more than half of the patients. However, patients poorly compliant with hyperdiuresis remain at risk for recurrence. We suggest that maintaining a daily urine volume of greater than 3 l. is essential for therapeutic success regardless of whether thiol derivatives are administered.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Algorithms
  • Cystine / analysis
  • Cystinuria / etiology
  • Cystinuria / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Time Factors
  • Urinary Calculi / chemistry
  • Urinary Calculi / complications
  • Urinary Calculi / therapy*


  • Cystine