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CT Use Reduction In Ostensive Ureteral Stone (CURIOUS)

Computed tomography (CT) is performed in over 90% of patients diagnosed with ureteral stones, but only 10% of patients presenting to the emergency department (ED) with acute flank pain are hospitalized for a clinically important stone or non-stone diagnosis. Hydronephrosis can be accurately detected using point-of-care ultrasound and is a key predictor of ureteral stone and risk of subsequent complications. The absence of hydronephrosis is insufficient to exclude a stone. We created a sensitive clinical decision rule to predict clinically important ureteral stones. We hypothesized that this rule could identify patients at low risk for this outcome. We conducted a retrospective cohort study in a random sample of 4000 adults who presented to one of 21 Kaiser Permanente Northern California EDs and underwent a CT for suspected ureteral stone from 1/1/2016 to 12/31/2020. The primary outcome was clinically important stone, defined as stone resulting in hospitalization or urologic procedure within 60 days. We used recursive partition analysis to generate a clinical decision rule predicting the outcome. We estimated the C-statistic (area under the curve), plotted the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve for the model, and calculated sensitivity, specificity, and predictive values of the model based on a risk threshold of 2%. Among 4000 patients, 354 (8.9%) had a clinically important stone. Our partition model resulted in four terminal nodes with risks ranging from 0.4% to 21.8%. The area under the ROC curve was 0.81 (95% CI 0.80, 0.83). Using a 2% risk cut point, a clinical decision tree including hydronephrosis, hematuria, and a history of prior stones predicted complicated stones with sensitivity 95.5% (95% CI 92.8%-97.4%), specificity 59.9% (95% CI 58.3%-61.5%), positive predictive value 18.8% (95% CI 18.1%-19.5%), and negative predictive value 99.3% (95% CI 98.8%-99.6%). Application of this clinical decision rule to imaging decisions would have led to 63% fewer CT scans with a miss rate of 0.4%. A limitation was the application of our decision rule only to patients who underwent CT for suspected ureteral stone. Thus, this rule would not apply to patients who were thought to have ureteral colic but did not receive a CT because ultrasound or history were sufficient for diagnosis. These results could inform future prospective validation studies.

Authors: Durant, Edward J; Engelhart, Darcy C; Ma, Annie A; Warton, E Margaret; Arasu, Vignesh A; Bernal, Raymond; Rauchwerger, Adina S; Reed, Mary E; Vinson, David R

Am J Emerg Med. 2023 May;67:168-175. Epub 2023-02-24.

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