Current practice of antibiotic utilization for renal colic in the emergency room

Bryan Hinck, Benjamin Larson, Shubha De, Manoj Monga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Urinalysis (UA) in the emergency setting for patients with nephrolithiasis produces potentially confusing results leading to treatment of presumed urinary tract infections (UTIs). Our objective was to evaluate the use of antibiotics in patients with nephrolithiasis in a large network of emergency departments (EDs). Methods: A retrospective analysis of all ED visits associated with an ICD-9 diagnosis of nephrolithiasis and a CT scan between 2010 and 2013 was performed. Urinalysis data, the use of IV and PO antibiotics during the ED visit and at discharge were assessed. The presence of fever, elevated serum WBCs, > 5 WBCs per hpf, and/or dip positive nitrites were used as appropriate criteria for antibiotic use. Results: Urinalysis data were available for 3,518 (70%) of 5,035 patients with an ED diagnosis of nephrolithiasis and CT imaging. Of these visits, 237 patients had positive nitrites (6.7%) and 864 had > 5 WBCs per hpf (24.6%) with 158 (4.5%) having both findings for a total of 943 patients. Intravenous antibiotics were given to 244 patients (25.9%) and oral antibiotics were given to 629 patients (66.7 %) with positive UA findings. Of the 2,440 patients with a negative UA and no leukocytosis or fever, 86 patients (3.5%) received IV antibiotics and 533 patients (21.8%) received PO antibiotics upon discharge. Conclusions: Proper treatment of nephrolithiasis in the ED includes the screening and diagnosis of concomitant UTIs. However, correct interpretation of UA studies is vital to the correct implementation of antibiotic therapy. This study suggests that 1/3 of patients were undertreated and 21.8% were over-treated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)239-244
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Braz J Urol
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Antibiotic prophylaxis
  • Emergencies
  • Renal colic

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