Researchers in the School of Medicine and Health Sciences found that a medication commonly used to pass kidney stones is actually ineffective, according to a release from the school Monday.
Over a six-year period, two professors conducted a clinical trial to test the effects of tamsulosin, an alpha-blocker medication that claims to relax muscles in the prostate and bladder. But the researchers found that the medicine, which is often used by men with enlarged prostates, didn’t significantly affect stone passage, the release states.
“There is no known medication for helping patients pass kidney stones,” Andrew Meltzer, an associate professor of emergency medicine who conducted the trial, said in the release.
Meltzer said that following the study, researchers are now calling on the American Urological Society to revise its guidelines advising physicians to administer tamsulosin to patients with kidney stones.
During the trial, 512 adults who visited the emergency room with kidney stones were given a tablet of tamsulosin or a placebo for 28 consecutive days. The stone passage rate for those who took tamsulosin was 50 percent, compared to 47 percent for the placebo group – a “nonsignificant difference,” the study states.
But Meltzer said that based on an analysis of a subgroup of patients, the medication could work for those who have larger or distal kidney stones.
“We are still looking for noninvasive ways to manage patients who have ureteral stones in order to promote passage and decrease complications and pain,” he said.
Meltzer worked with Patrick Mufarrij, an assistant professor of urology, to conduct the trial. The research team also included contributors from Thomas Jefferson University, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and the University of Alabama at Birmingham, according to the release.
The clinical trial was funded by the National Institute for Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.