OBJECTIVES: To compare the impact of unenhanced and contrast-enhanced multi-detector computed tomography (MDCT) for the detection of urinary stones and urinary obstruction in patients with suspected renal colic. METHODS: 95 patients with suspected renal colic underwent a three-phase MDCT for evaluation of the urinary tract. The unenhanced scan and the multiphase examination were reviewed retrospectively by two radiologists for the characterization of urinary stones and signs of obstruction. Results of unenhanced MDCT were compared with those obtained during the second review of the entire multiphase examination. RESULTS: Overall diagnosis of urinary stones revealed an accuracy of 97.0% for unenhanced, and 98.9% for multiphase MDCT with a significant difference between both protocols (mixed-effects logistic regression: odds ratio 3.3; p=0.019). With 3 versus 15 false positive ratings, multiphase MDCT was superior to unenhanced MDCT for the diagnosis of urinary stones. There was no significant difference in detecting signs of obstruction. Inter-reader agreement for overall stone detection was excellent on both unenhanced (kappa 0.84) and multiphase (kappa 0.88) MDCT. CONCLUSION: Contrast-enhanced multiphase MDCT offers distinct advantages compared to an unenhanced approach for the assessment of urinary stone disease, and therefore should be considered as a complementary examination for patients with inconclusive findings.