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Bedside ultrasound and the assessment of renal colic: a review
  1. Peregrine James Dalziel,
  2. Vicki Elizabeth Noble
  1. Emergency Medicine Ultrasound Division, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Peregrine James Dalziel, Emergency Medicine Ultrasound Division, Massachusetts General Hospital, Suite 140, 5 Emerson Place, Boston, MA 02114, USA; drpjdalziel{at}


Renal colic is a common emergency department (ED) presentation. The use of CT in the diagnosis of renal colic has increased over the past two decades and is now the most common imaging modality used in many institutions. However, with growing concerns about cumulative radiation exposure, increasing healthcare costs and patient flow in EDs, alternative approaches may need to be considered. Point-of-care ultrasound may offer a radiation-free, rapid and cost-effective alternative. The authors reviewed the literature and synthesised some of the data comparing point-of-care ultrasound with CT scanning as well as some of the evidence for how it might be incorporated into a renal colic management strategy. It is concluded that there is enough evidence to define a rational algorithm for renal colic management. A prospectively validated algorithm would greatly assist primary care and emergency practitioners while reducing costs and radiation dose.

  • Emergency department
  • bedside ultrasound
  • CT
  • nephrolithiasis
  • hydronephrosis
  • renal
  • ultrasound
  • CT/MRI
  • emergency department management
  • cost efficiency

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.