Drug therapy may help patients with stone disease avoid surgery

October 5, 2006

Treatment with a calcium-channel blocker or alpha-blocker can greatly improve a patient's likelihood of passing urinary stones, which may help these patients avoid surgery, according to a meta-analysis conducted at the University of Michigan Health System, Ann Arbor.

Treatment with a calcium-channel blocker or alpha-blocker can greatly improve a patient’s likelihood of passing urinary stones, which may help these patients avoid surgery, according to a meta-analysis conducted at the University of Michigan Health System, Ann Arbor.

Researchers looked at previously published studies and ultimately analyzed nine trials that included 693 patients. The trials examined the use of calcium-channel blockers or alpha-blockers to assist with the passage of urinary stones. In all, they found that patients treated with one of the medications had a 65% greater chance of passing the stones spontaneously than did patients not given these drugs. Results were reported in The Lancet (2006; 368:1171-9).

“This suggests that treatment with these medications is an important first step for patients with an acute urinary stone episode,” said John M. Hollingsworth, MD, who worked on the study with Brent K. Hollenbeck, MD.

The authors added that surgery is still a necessary treatment for many patients with urinary stones. The cost of medical treatment for urinary stones would be far lower than that of surgery, they noted.