The accuracy of noncontrast helical computed tomography versus intravenous pyelography in the diagnosis of suspected acute urolithiasis: a meta-analysis

Ann Emerg Med. 2002 Sep;40(3):280-6. doi: 10.1067/mem.2002.126170.


Study objectives: We determine the accuracy of noncontrast helical computed tomography (NHCT) compared with that of intravenous pyelography (IVP) in diagnosing acute urolithiasis.

Methods: Computerized searches of MEDLINE and EMBASE were combined with hand reviews of major journals and of articles from reference lists. Articles were assessed according to a priori criteria for inclusion. Study eligibility was independently assessed by 2 reviewers in a blinded fashion. Test results were combined and analysis of log-transformed data was conducted by using general linear models.

Results: No disagreement was found between the 2 investigators in terms of articles that met the inclusion criteria or between the results of the studies. Four studies involving a total of 296 patients met all of the a priori criteria. The pooled positive likelihood ratios (LR+) for NHCT and IVP are 23.15 (95% confidence interval [CI] 11.53 to 47.23) and 9.32 (95% CI 5.23 to 16.61), respectively. The pooled negative likelihood ratios (LR-) for NHCT and IVP are 0.05 (95% CI 0.02 to 0.15) and 0.33 (95% CI 0.23 to 0.48), respectively. The differences between NHCT and IVP were statistically significant for both LR+ (P =.046) and LR- (P =.013). Differences among trials were not statistically significant in either analysis (P =.125 for LR+; P =.114 for LR-).

Conclusion: The studies analyzed consistently demonstrated NHCT to be superior to IVP in accurately diagnosing acute urolithiasis, and differences between the 2 tests for both LR+ and LR- were statistically significant.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*
  • Urinary Calculi / diagnosis*
  • Urography*