Analysis of clinical and demographic characteristics of patients presenting with renal colic in the emergency department

BMC Res Notes. 2008 Sep 16;1:79. doi: 10.1186/1756-0500-1-79.


Background: Renal colic (RC), is one of the most severe pain patterns which is most commonly diagnosed and managed in the emergency department (ED). This study is designed to evaluate the characteristics of adult patients presenting with pain and diagnosed with RC in the ED, length of stay in the ED and hospital and factors affecting these variables.

Methods: All consecutive adult patients who presented with side pain, flank pain, abdominal or groin pain and consequently diagnosed with urolithiasis or RC were analyzed retrospectively. Sociodemographic data, times of admission into and discharge from the ED, adjunctive complaints, results of laboratory investigations, findings on examination, treatment and drugs administered were noted.

Results: A total of 235 patients with a diagnostic code of urolithiasis were enrolled. Physicians were more likely to order radiological and laboratory investigations for female patients and those without hematuria in urinalysis. The peak incidence of patients diagnosed with RC (p = 0.001) was noted in August, while the winter had the lowest frequency of relevant admissions. The peak frequency was between 06:00 and 08:00. Women stayed longer in the ED (p = 0.001). Absence of hematuria in urinalysis was associated with increased length of stay (p = 0.007).

Conclusion: Although RC is a common ED presentation for which the emergency physician has no guidelines in terms of diagnosis and management, there is no exact pattern to guide ordering investigations. Patients with atypical presentations stay longer in the ED and are likely to undergo additional tests in management.