What is the likelihood of having an invasive urologic procedure after renal colic?

Renal colic is a pain, usually severe, that starts in one side in the back (the lumbar area, between the lower ribs and hip) and radiates along the same side anteriorly to the flank, to the inguinal area, and scrotum in men (vaginal lip in women).

Renal colic makes you rush to the ER of the nearest hospital seeking immediate relief. Quite often the pain decreases and it is acceptable after IV infusion of a good painkiller. In a short while, you are discharged from the emergency department with oral medications that make you able to control the pain at home. You are diagnosed with ureteric stone.

Most of these cases have a favorable course and in a few days the stone is expelled without further treatments.

In a recent cohort study of 66 218 unique index visits by 55 314 patients 18 to 64 years of age, 5.0% of patients underwent a urologic procedure by 7 days and 12.7% underwent a urologic procedure by 60 days.

According to this study, conservative approach and outpatient follow-up is reasonable in episodic no complicated renal colic.


Schoenfeld EM, Shieh MS, Pekow PS, Scales CD Jr, Munger JM, Lindenauer PK. Association of Patient and Visit Characteristics With Rate and Timing of Urologic Procedures for Patients Discharged From the Emergency Department With Renal Colic. JAMA Netw Open. 2019;2(12):e1916454. Published 2019 Dec 2. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.16454