Purpose: We evaluated the incidence and clinical relevance of alternate or additional findings on unenhanced CT in patients with acute flank pain and suspected urinary calculi.
Materials and methods: A consecutive series of 1,500 patients underwent unenhanced CT due to acute flank pain. The absence or presence of urinary tract calculi and their localization were recorded. Alternate or additional CT findings were classified according to whether they required immediate or deferred treatment, or were of little or no clinical importance.
Results: Of the 1,500 patients 1,035 (69%) had urinary tract calculi, including 309 (30%) with nephrolithiasis, 377 (36%) with ureterolithiasis and 349 (34%) with the 2 conditions. Urolithiasis alone was found in 331 of these patients (32%) and additional pathological conditions were noted in 704 (68%). Of all patients 1,064 (71%) had other or additional CT findings. Of all patients 207 (14%) had nonstone related CT findings requiring immediate or deferred treatment, 464 (31%) had pathological conditions of little clinical importance and 393 (26%) had pathological conditions of no clinical relevance. CT was normal in 105 of all patients (7%).
Conclusions: Unenhanced CT in patients with acute flank pain allows the accurate diagnosis of urinary stone disease and it can also provide further important information leading to emergency or deferred treatment in a substantial number of patients.