Ureterolithiasis: Value of the tail sign in differentiating phleboliths from ureteral calculi at nonenhanced helical CT

Illya C. Boridy, Paul Nikolaidis, Akira Kawashima, Stanford M. Goldman, Carl M. Sandler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

54 Scopus citations

Abstract

PURPOSE: To determine the value of the tail sign in differentiating phleboliths from ureteral calculi at nonenhanced helical computed tomography (CT). MATERIALS AND METHOD: The nonenhanced helical CT scans in 82 patients with a confirmed diagnosis of pelvic ureterolithiasis were retrospectively reviewed. Each calcification along the ureter was classified as a phlebolith or a ureteral calculus on the basis of clinical and imaging findings and was analyzed for the presence of a tail sign. RESULTS: Eighty-two patients each had a single ureteral calculus. None of these calculi were associated with a positive tail sign. Sixty-nine phleboliths were present in 35 patients. Forty-five phleboliths (65%) were associated with a positive tail sign. Of the remaining 24 phleboliths, 17 (25%) were associated with a negative tail sign and seven (10%) were indeterminate. The tail sign has a sensitivity of 65% (45 of 69; 95% CI: 53%, 75%) and a specificity of 100% (82 of 82; 95% Cl: 96%, 100%) in differentiating phleboliths from ureteral calculi. CONCLUSION: The tail sign is an important indicator that a suspicious calcification represents a phlebolith. Absence of the tail sign indicates that the calcification remains indeterminate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)619-621
Number of pages3
JournalRadiology
Volume211
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1999

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Keywords

  • Kidney, CT
  • Ureter, CT
  • Ureter, calculi

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging

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