2023 May 30. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan–.
Acute renal colic is a severe form of sudden flank pain that typically originates over the costovertebral angle and extends anteriorly and inferiorly towards the groin or testicle. It is often caused by acute obstruction of the urinary tract by a calculus and is frequently associated with nausea and vomiting. The degree of pain is related to the degree of obstruction and not the size of the stone, although stone size can be a reasonable predictor of the likelihood of spontaneous passage. While kidney stones are not the only cause of flank pain, their frequency, and the severity of the pain they cause makes nephrolithiasis the most likely presumptive diagnosis when sudden flank pain occurs.
Nephrolithiasis, also known as kidney stones, is a common condition affecting 5% to 15% of the population at some point, with a yearly incidence of 0.5% in North America and Europe. It is usually caused by a crystal or crystalline aggregate traveling from the kidney through the genitourinary system and becoming stuck creating an obstruction to urinary flow, typically in the ureter. This obstruction results in proximal ureteral and renal pelvic dilation which is the immediate cause of the intense pain known as renal colic.
While the nature and onset of the pain depends on the underlying cause, its exact location, and severity, for most patients the pain peaks at about 1 to 2 hours after its initial onset.
Quality of life scores will obviously end to lower as the number of kidney stone attacks increase. This was most obvious when the total numbeer of lifetime renal colic events reached five or more suggesting that preventive measures, such as 24-hour urine testing, should be done at that point if not earlier.