Objective: To compare the efficacies of meperidine and hydromorphone in the treatment for ureteral colic in the emergency department (ED).
Methods: A prospective, double-blind, randomized clinical trial was conducted over six months at a tertiary referral center with 93,000 annual ED visits. Seventy-three patients completed the study. The patients received either 1 mg of hydromorphone or 50 mg of meperidine IV at t = 0. Pain intensity was determined using a 10-cm visual analog scale at t = 0, 15, 30, 60, and 120 minutes. A second dose of the study drug could be given between t = 15 and t = 120 minutes when the clinician believed the initial dose was ineffective. Patients requiring more than one additional dose of analgesia were treated as nonresponders and were removed from the study.
Results: Thirty-six patients received hydromorphone and 37 received meperidine. The initial pain intensities (hydromorphone group = 8.4 ± 1.5; meperidine group = 8.5 ± 2.1), age distributions, sex distributions, and side effects of the two groups were comparable. Pain relief was better (p < 0.05) with hydromorphone at t = 15, 30, 60, and 120 minutes. The hydromorphone group required rescue analgesia less often (31% vs 68%, p < 0.01), had fewer IV pyelographies (IVPs) (28% vs 54%, p < 0.05), and had a lower proportion of hospital admissions (25% vs 49%, p = 0.08).
Conclusions: For the fixed doses used in this study, the adult ureteral colic patients receiving hydromorphone achieved more pain relief, required less rescue medication, underwent fewer IVPs, and avoided hospital admission more frequently than did those receiving meperidine.