- To evaluate emergency SWL for the treatment of upper urinary-tract stones causing renal colic. Between January 1999 and June 2003, 53 patients with a mean age of 46.6 years (range 22-65 years) were enrolled. The inclusion criteria were acute renal colic, radiopaque 5-mm to 1.5-cm calculi in the ureteropelvic junction (N=10) or upper ureter (N=43), and no evidence of urinary-tract infection or acute renal failure. The mean stone size was 7.14 mm (range 5-13 mm). Patients were randomly assigned to the control (N=28) and study (N=25) groups using previously prepared cards in envelopes. Patients in the study group underwent emergency SWL, while patients in the control group underwent scheduled SWL within 30 days. Stone status was evaluated 4 weeks after lithotripsy. There was no significant difference between the control and study groups with respect to age, sex, stone location or volume, renal obstruction, or days spent in the hospital for pain control. Available fragments of stones were sent for infrared spectroscopy. Preoperative and postoperative data were compared in the two groups using SPSS 10.0 statistical software. The SWL treatment lasted 50+/-11 minutes. The stone-free rates were 72% and 64% and the efficiency quotients were 53% and 44% in study and control groups, respectively. Patients in the control group spent more time in the hospital (P=0.014) and in recovery at home (P=0.011). Emergency SWL for acute renal colic caused by upper-ureteral stones is a safe procedure and offers effective release from pain and obstruction. It also decreases hospitalization days and hastens return to normal activity.