Paracetamol vs piroxicam to relieve pain in renal colic. Results of a randomized controlled trial

Am J Emerg Med. 2011 Feb;29(2):203-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ajem.2009.09.019. Epub 2010 Oct 8.


Purpose: We tested whether paracetamol could improve pain relief in patients visiting the emergency department with acute renal colic as compared to piroxicam, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID).

Materials and methods: Patients with a diagnosis of acute renal colic were prospectively randomized to receive either intravenous paracetamol (1 g) or intramuscular piroxicam (20 mg). We monitored patients for visual analog scale (VAS), heart rate, arterial blood pressure, need for rescue therapy, and adverse events at different time points for 90 minutes. We recorded admission requirement and new visit for renal colic at 72 hours. The primary end point was pain relief at 90 minutes, defined as a decrease of 50% or more as compared to the initial VAS. The secondary objectives were comparison of the 2 groups for VAS at any time points and the occurrence of adverse events.

Results: Of the 226 eligible patients, 100 entered the study. Fifty patients received paracetamol and 50 received NSAID. Pain relief at 90 minutes was obtained in 40 patients receiving paracetamol (80%) and 24 (48%) receiving NSAID (P = .002). Visual analog scale was lower in the paracetamol group since 45 minutes. Only 2 adverse events were observed.

Conclusion: A single therapy with intravenous paracetamol more efficiently relieved pain in acute renal colic than did intramuscular piroxicam.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acetaminophen / therapeutic use*
  • Adult
  • Analgesics, Non-Narcotic / therapeutic use
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pain / drug therapy*
  • Pain / etiology*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Piroxicam / therapeutic use*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Renal Colic / complications*
  • Tunisia


  • Analgesics, Non-Narcotic
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Piroxicam
  • Acetaminophen