Urolithiasis is a disease characterized by the presence of stones in the kidney or urinary tract. It is often detected accidentally during an ultrasound or an abdominal x-ray performed for other reasons. However, the first symptom of kidney stone disease can be severe pain called renal colic. Pain caused by a colic attack is characterized by sudden onset. In half of the cases it is associated with nausea or vomiting and can lead to hypotension and fainting. The exact location and radiation of the pain depends on the location of the stone in the urinary tract. The first most commonly performed study is abdominal ultrasound with estimation of the deposit size and evaluation of urinary tract obstruction. Alternative or complementary studies are: an abdominal x-ray where radiopaque deposits can be shown, or unenhanced helical computed tomography of the abdomen. The severity of pain depends on the individual pain threshold and on the change in hydrostatic pressure in the part of the urinary system above the obstruction. Prolonged deposition of the stone in one place causes the activation of autoregulatory mechanisms to lower the pressure of the upper urinary tract, which limits the pain. The basic treatment for renal colic is analgetic therapy. The most commonly used drugs are NSAIDs and opiates. Another important component of renal colic treatment are medications that facilitate urinary stone passage by reducing oedema or limiting urethral contractions, such as: calcium channel blockers, alpha blockers, phosphodiesterase inhibitors. Intensive hydration is not currently recommended. Patients who are unlikely to spontaneously excrete the stone are eligible for minimally invasive treatment. The risk of urolithiasis recurring is high, reaching up to 40% in 5 years and up to 50% in 10 years. However, it can be reduced by proper prevention. The paper describes the pathophysiology of pain in renal colic, the treatment methods, and the case of a boy with recurrent renal colic.
© 2018 Magda Rakowska, Katarzyna Królikowska, Katarzyna Jobs, Małgorzata Placzyńska, Bolesław Kalicki, published by Sciendo.