MAG3-F0 scintigraphy in decision making for emergency intervention in renal colic after helical CT positive for a urolith

G. N. Sfakianakis, D. J. Cohen, R. H. Braunstein, R. J. Leveillee, I. Lerner, V. G. Bird, E. Sfakianakis, M. F. Georgiou, N. L. Block, C. M. Lynne

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36 Scopus citations


Patients with renal colic are evaluated with clinical, laboratory, and imaging methods for stratification for emergency decompression, medical treatment, or discharge and follow up. The current standard practice is heavily based on unenhanced helical CT for detecting uroliths. However, the presence of a urolith does not necessarily mean that the kidney is obstructed and requires emergency decompression. In this study, technetium-mercapto-acetyltriglycine (MAG3) diuretic scintirenography was used to detect obstruction in patients with renal colic. The contribution of this test to patient management after positive findings from helical CT was also studied. Methods: Diagnostic criteria were established on the basis of previous experience with 60 patients who had renal colic and had undergone radiography of the kidneys, ureters, and urinary bladder (KUB) and diuretic Tc-MAG3 scintirenography and were followed up to correlate scintigraphic findings with clinical outcome. Subsequently, 80 patients with renal colic underwent scintigraphy within 12 h of presentation in the emergency room, after abdominal helical CT showed findings positive for calculus and suggestive of obstruction. After therapeutic oral or intravenous hydration and analgesics, diuretic dynamic renal scintigraphy (flow, function, delayed imaging) was performed after intravenous injections of 10 mCi (370 MBq) (99m)Tc-MAG3 and 40 mg furosemide (at zero time, or F0). Results were available soon after completion of the study and were considered in patient management. Four characteristic patterns of scintirenography, essential in patient stratification and treatment, had been standardized and were used for interpretation of the studies: the unobstructed kidney; the partially obstructed kidney, proximally or distally obstructed, with mild to severe obstruction and impairment of function; the totally obstructed kidney, with arrested renal function; and the unobstructed but dysfunctioning kidney after decompression, or stunned kidney. Results: Among the 80 patients with positive helical CT findings, 56.5% were found to have obstruction by scintigraphy (32.5% partially, 24% completely); the remaining 43.5% did not have obstruction (21% without an indication of recent obstruction and 22.5% with stunned kidneys after spontaneous decompression). Occasionally, findings of preexistent urine extravasation or infection were present. Patients who, by scintigraphy, never had obstruction or had experienced spontaneous decompression did not require admission or emergency intervention; those with complete or severe obstruction required admission and decompression for relief of pain or restoration of function, whereas those with mild obstruction were treated variably with forced fluids, analgesics, or, less frequently, elective surgery. Outcome information from clinical examination, imaging, and interventional findings indicated that this stratification was successful. The test caused no side effects. Conclusion: For renal colic, clinical selection, KUB radiography, and even positive helical CT findings were all found to have a low positive predictive value for obstruction (in this study, 35%, 32%, and 56% respectively). Anatomic studies, including helical CT, should be followed by diuretic MAG3-F0 scintirenography to diagnose and quantify or exclude obstruction, detect spontaneous decompression, and appropriately stratify patients for emergency intervention, observation and medical therapy, or further work-up and discharge with referral to the clinic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1813-1822
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Nuclear Medicine
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2000


  • Helical CT
  • Kidneys, ureters, and bladder
  • Mercaptoacetyltriglycine
  • Obstruction
  • Postdecompression
  • Renal colic
  • Stone disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology


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