Ureteric colic is an emergency condition associated with severe pain due to obstruction of the ureter, part of the urinary system.
The urinary tract consists of the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. Urine formed in the kidneys passes through the ureters to reach the bladder where it is stored and later released through the urethra to the outside of the body. Ureteric colic is caused by a stone obstructing the ureter. This usually occurs at its junction with the kidney and bladder where it is the most narrow.
The obstruction of urine increases tension on the walls of the tract causing severe pain. Associated infection, inflammation and spasm of the smooth muscles in the wall may also be present. Bladder symptoms are common when the stone is near the bladder.
Symptoms include sudden flank pain that can radiate to the groin. Nausea and vomiting may also be present. Blood may be seen in the urine.
Your doctor will review your history and symptoms and order imaging studies such as abdominal X-rays, ultrasound, intravenous urography or CT to visualize the stone. Blood and urine tests may also be ordered.
Most ureteric stones pass spontaneously in the urine, so treatment usually consists of observation and pain control with medications. Medication may also be prescribed to decrease inflammation, prevent or treat infection or reduce muscle spasm so that the stone may be easily expelled.
Surgical or radiological intervention is recommended depending on its size, position, impaction and obstruction or if the stone does not pass. Retaining the stone for greater than 4-6 weeks can result in kidney damage. Surgery usually involves drainage of the urine by placing a stent within the ureter or making an incision through the skin.