For many patients with urinary stone disease, treatment with a calcium-channel blocker or an alpha blocker can greatly improve their likelihood of passing their urinary stones, which may help these patients avoid surgery, according to an analysis by the University of Michigan Health System.
Urinary stone disease is highly prevalent, afflicting 13 percent of men and 7 percent of women in the United States. While many urinary stones are treated today with minimally invasive techniques, there is growing evidence to suggest that medications can be an effective treatment.
Calcium-channel blockers and alpha blockers are used commonly for management of high blood pressure and enlarged prostates. In this study, published in the Sept. 30 issue of the Lancet, researchers identified and analyzed numerous studies and found that both medications were a successful alternative for treatment of an acute urinary stone episode.
“Surgery is still a necessary treatment for many patients with urinary stones,” says senior author Brent K. Hollenbeck, M.D., assistant professor of urology at the U-M Medical School and Comprehensive Cancer Center. “However, for many people, a more conservative approach beginning with a trial of a calcium-channel blocker or an alpha blocker is proving to be efficacious.”
Researchers looked at articles about this issue 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 percent greater chance of passing the stones spontaneously than patients not given these drugs.
“This suggests that treatment with these medications is an important first step for patients with an acute urinary stone episode,” says lead author John M. Hollingsworth, M.D., fifth-year surgery resident with the Department of Urology at the U-M Medical School.