Kidney and Ureteral Stones

Emergency Situations

Emergency Situations in Kidney and Ureteral Stones

Acute renal colic

Renal colic is an acute, painful situation caused by a stone that blocks the ureter. Go to the family doctor or the nearest emergency room as soon as possible to relieve the pain.

Fig. 1: A JJ-stent is inserted to make sure urine can flow through the urinary tract.
Fig. 1: A JJ-stent is inserted to make sure urine can flow through the urinary tract.

Interesting Fact

Every year, around 1 or 2 people out of 1,000 suffer from acute renal colic.

Pain is usually relieved with NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), which you can take as a tablet or a suppository. If this first step of treatment does not help, you will get stronger painkillers called opioids. Usually, they are injected directly into the vein. The disadvantage of opioids is that they can make you nauseous.

On a rare occasion, drugs do not work. In this case the doctor may need to drain urine from your kidney. This is called decompression.

There are two methods of decompression:

  • By placing a ureteral JJ-stent in your ureter through your urethra (Fig. 1)
  • By inserting a percutaneous nephrostomy tube into your kidney directly through the skin (Fig. 2a and 2b)

Both methods are equally effective.

Obstructed and infected kidney

If you have renal colic together with a fever or if you feel unusually tired, you should go to the closest urological department at once. You will get blood and urine tests to check if you have an infected, obstructed kidney.

If you have an infected, obstructed kidney, you need immediate decompression to relieve the pressure in your kidney. After the decompression you will get antibiotics to clear the infection. You can only be treated to have your stone removed after the infection is gone.

Fig. 2a: A percutaneous nephrostomy tube is used to drain urine directly from the kidney into the catheter bag.
Fig. 2a: A percutaneous nephrostomy tube is used to drain urine directly from the kidney into the catheter bag.Fig. 2b: A percutaneous nephrostomy tube inside the kidney.