Comparison of tamsulosin with extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy in treating distal ureteral stones

Chin Med J (Engl). 2009 Apr 5;122(7):798-801.


Background: Tamsulosin, an alpha-1 receptor antagonist, has been demonstrated effective in promoting distal ureteral stone passage and in reducing pain associated with stone expulsion. This study aimed to evaluate the effect of tamsulosin in comparison with nifedipine and extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) on the expulsion rate of distal ureteral stones at different sizes.

Methods: We assigned 314 patients to three categories: I, the stone with maximal diameter of 4.0 - 5.9 mm; II, 6.0 - 7.9 mm, and III, 8.0 - 9.9 mm. Patients in each category were randomly subdivided into three treatment subgroups: group A (nifedipine group), group B (tamsulosin group), and group C (ESWL group). Stone-free rate and the dose of analgesics were recorded weekly during the 4-week follow-up period.

Results: Three hundred and three patients completed the study. The results showed that nifedipine and tamsulosin treatments promoted a small (4 - 8 mm, categories I and II) stone expulsive rate that was comparable with ESWL treatment. Nonetheless, when the stone diameter was 8.0 - 9.9 mm, ESWL showed a greater stone free rate than nifedipine and tamsulosin treatments; no significant difference existed between the latter two therapies. Although the ESWL treatment group required the least analgesics, tamsulosin treatments required less pain medication than nifedipine (P < 0.05).

Conclusions: Tamsulosin treatment is recommended for patients with the stone diameter smaller than 8 mm because of its feasibility, effectiveness and safety. ESWL is more appropriate than tamsulosin therapy for the patients whose stones are larger than 8 mm.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic alpha-Antagonists / pharmacology*
  • Adult
  • Calcium Channel Blockers / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lithotripsy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nifedipine / therapeutic use
  • Sulfonamides / therapeutic use*
  • Tamsulosin
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ureteral Calculi / drug therapy
  • Ureteral Calculi / therapy*


  • Adrenergic alpha-Antagonists
  • Calcium Channel Blockers
  • Sulfonamides
  • Tamsulosin
  • Nifedipine