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Narcotic Pain Control for Ureterolithiasis Is Associated With Unnecessary Repeat Imaging in the Emergency Department

Garcia, Kyle; Pham, Hannah; Sharma, Pranav

The Journal for Healthcare Quality (JHQ): September/October 2019 - Volume 41 - Issue 5 - p e47–e53
doi: 10.1097/JHQ.0000000000000165
Original Article

ABSTRACT A subset of patients with ureteral stones who present to the emergency department (ED) will return with recurring symptoms and will receive unnecessary repeat imaging. We retrospectively identified 112 patients from 2012 to 2016 diagnosed with at least one ureteral stone on computerized tomography (CT) at our institution who returned to the ED within 30 days. Patients were stratified based on the presence or absence of repeat CT scan imaging. Mean values were compared with independent t-test and proportions with chi-square analysis. Multivariate logistic regression was performed to determine independent predictors of repeat imaging. Sixty-eight patients (60.7%) underwent repeat CT scan imaging upon representation to the ED within 30 days of being diagnosed with ureterolithiasis. Ureteral stone position changed in 34 patients (30.4%) who underwent repeat imaging. On univariate analysis, younger age, nondiabetics, narcotics prescribed on discharge from first ED visit, and longer mean time between ED visits were associated with repeat CT scan imaging being performed (p < .05). Only prescription of narcotic pain medications was an independent predictor of repeat CT scan imaging (odds ratio: 3.18, 95% confidence interval: 1.22–8.28; p = .018). Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or nonnarcotic pain medications, therefore, should primarily be used for pain control in these patients to avoid unnecessary testing.

For more information on this article, contact Pranav Sharma at

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

© 2019 National Association for Healthcare Quality
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