Severe pain after stent removal: How often does it happen and can anything prevent it?

Can a single pill prevent post stent removal pain? (Image from Office.com)

Many patients complain of some pain after having a ureteral stent is removed. This pain is usually mild and self-limited. However, the pain can sometimes be severe. Because patients may not have been warned about the possibility of significant pain beforehand, it can come as an unwelcome surprise, and patients may be left wondering whether something is wrong. Patients who are affected by this pain may describe it as being worse than their original stone pain. In some cases the pain can be bad enough to bring them back to the emergency room.

Up to now, there hasn’t been much research on this topic and it was not clear how often this phenomenon occurs or what might be done to prevent it. A recent publication in the journal BJU International now suggests that severe pain after stent removal may occur in as many as half (55%) of patients. In the study, performed by researchers at Oregon Health & Science University and the Portland Veterans Administration Medical Center, patients having their indwelling ureteral stents removed were either given a placebo pill or a single 50mg dose of the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) rofecoxib fifteen minutes before their stent removal procedure. Patients were asked to report their pain just before and 24 hours after their stent removal on a scale ranging from 1 to 10, with 7 or above being considered severe pain. Six of the eleven patients (55%) given placebo developed severe pain after their stent removal while none of the ten patients given rofecoxib developed severe pain.

The authors speculated that the mechanism by which the NSAID medicine may have provided such a dramatic reduction in severe pain occurrence might have been through reducing ureteral spasms or by decreasing pressure within the kidney. While the results of the study are very encouraging, further research will be needed to confirm the findings. For now though, the study is currently the only evidence we have on how often post stent removal severe pain occurs and what we might do to prevent it – take a single dose of a NSAID pain medication fifteen minutes before removing a stent.

Of note, the medication used in the study, rofecoxib (brand name Vioxx), was withdrawn from the US market in 2004 due to concerns about cardiovascular side effects and it is no longer available. The authors report in their paper that they now use a single 220mg dose of the NSAID naproxen with their patients. Naproxen is available over the counter (as a generic or under brand names such as Aleve) but you should check with your doctor about whether you should take it and make sure to read the warnings from the manufacturer as some patients with certain medical conditions shouldn’t take it.

While you might think that a single pill of naproxen can’t be very strong, other research actually supports its use for acute pain. In 15 randomized studies involving 1509 participants, naproxen was found to be effective for relieving moderate to severe pain in patients after surgery. Half of patients who were given a single dose of naproxen experienced at least half pain relief and the effects of the medicine lasted on average for up to nine hours. You can read more about naproxen for postoperative pain at the Cochrane Collaboration website.

REFERENCE: Tadros NN, Bland L, Legg E, Olyaei A, Conlin MJ. “A single dose of a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) prevents severe pain after ureteric stent removal: a prospective, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. BJU International, 2012.

 

About Dr. Mike Nguyen

Mike M Nguyen, MD, MPH, is a urologist and an Associate Professor of Clinical Urology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC in Los Angeles, CA. He specializes in the treatment of kidney stones with both surgery and dietary prevention and the in the treatment of kidney and prostate cancer using the latest robotic surgical approaches. He sees patients at clinics located in Los Angeles, Pasadena, and La Canada, CA. He is the founder of the www.KidneyStoners.org website.
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139 Responses to Severe pain after stent removal: How often does it happen and can anything prevent it?

  1. Nicole says:

    I had a kidney stone and my stent removed today. My doctor replaced the stent with the kind that has a string on the end to be removed in office in a few days. I’m experiencing severe pain especially when I try to urinate, like I’m being kicked in the back by a mule or like my kindey is trying to punch its way out of my back. I almost passed out on the toilet and was seeing stars about to puke from pain. My doctor only prescribed 5 mg hydrocodone to be taken 1 every 12 hours and it’s not putting a dent in it. I don’t want to take more pills than the bottle says but not this is not working. I also have prescription strength Pyridium and some Uribel (they also do not help with this pain). In addition I’m taking ibuprofen, which is potentially bad for me since I have had ulcers on and off since I was a child and had bleeding ulcers three years ago. It’s Friday evening so I couldn’t get a hold of her if I needed to. On another note, she is extremely opposed to changing the narcotic medication or giving me anything stronger and would not do anything to help me anyway. After my first stent was placed a few weeks ago and I was in awful pain I was simply told to “drink water”. I have a large 30 ounce container from the hospital which I’m drinking steadily, and every time I have to pee now it’s an ordeal. It hurts worse than the original stone, the first stent placing, and worse than when I fell two stories and had compression fractures in my spine. I have school work and a job that I can’t attend to because of this. My mother is having to take care of me again since all I can do is lay in bed with two boiling hot water bottles on my back and front. Any advice?? I’m totally at a loss.

  2. Pat says:

    I am in this esteemed group of painful participants post-stint removal. I never thought this could last so long! It’s been one week since the stint was pulled. That was not a bad procedure. I did take Percocet before and AZO after. I still have cramping and feel pressure that is not resolved.
    Three weeks since that awful stone attack, two weeks since surgery to insert stint and trying to get the stone, which ended in lithotripsy. If nothing is in there, why am I hurting? I feel completely exhausted evidenced by my bounding heart upon taking a shower. I’ve developed hypertension, I suppose from my pain. I am somewhat comforted that this has happened to other people. I hope we feel better SOON.

  3. Michael B says:

    Hopefully to give some reassurance to those experiencing discomfort after a stent removal. I had considerable pain and discomfort for about 6 weeks after the removal of the stent. I could get no reply or information from my hospital – there service was a disgrace. My doctor gave me the best advice which was to avoid painkillers and let nature take its course. She was right – but I went through an awful amount of anxiety living with the uncertainty.

    After my ureteroscopy I had post-operative delirium which was incredibly nasty and still has serious consequences two months later. You are at greater risk if you are older. I suggest you check on the internet about this issue.

  4. Gina says:

    These comments terrify me. I had my third ureteroscopy 8 days ago. My first two procedures went smoothly and recovery was straightforward. This time, I had to be admitted to the hospital after surgery because of uncontrolled pain and spasms. By the next day I was feeling somewhat better. Today I had my stent removed. It was relatively painless. I came home, took my anti-spasm medication and Advil and relaxed…until the pain hit again. I took Hydromorphone for the pain without relief. I called my urologist who told me to take another Hydromorphone, plus two more Advil, plus 2 Tylenol. If this doesn’t help soon, I’m heading back to the ER. Will it ever end???

  5. Wendee says:

    You don’t realize how thrilled I am to read that I’m not imagining this pain.

    For 4 weeks I powered through pain not knowing what was wrong. Almost 2 weeks ago the pain was excruciating and I finally went to the emergency dept. 8 hours later, medicated, and after ultrasound scans I found out I was the not so proud owner of a 8mm stone caught in my ureter.

    The following week I was in the hospital for a stent insertion which failed miserably as the Dr could not get it around the stone. The following day (a week ago) I was admitted for a uteriscopy to remove the stone.

    Pain was nearing unbearable most days after surgery.

    Stent was removed today at noon and at 6 hours the pain is worse than last week, I’ve taken Naproxsen and a percocet and the pain has dulled a bit.

    I hope this doesn’t last long. :(

  6. Keeks says:

    Hi-
    I’m 35 years old and have been dealing with kidney stones for what seems like almost half of my life. I’ve passed dozens upon dozens of kidney stones with little to no intervention. Usually it’s just the typical trip to the ER, pain meds, fluids, CT scan and then home to pass it. I had an episode at the end of May this year which I thought to be a UTI. The pain became unbearable and I ended up in the ER. My urine was tested and came back showing infection basically from my kidney’s down. They also performed a CT Scan and show a 5mm kidney stone in my left ureter and the jackass doctor at the ER said, you should pass this in the next few days. Sent me home, Flomax, antibiotic, pain meds. A few days go by and I start to feel better. I finished my course of antibiotics and thought that I was well on my way to being infection free. About a week later, I suddenly became very ill again. I was having a terrible time peeing, my whole body was killing me and I was burning up. I headed in to see my doctor who told me that I was about 1 day from becoming sepsis and sent me home with Levoquin. While on the Levoquin, I did start to feel a tad better, but, I still had the feeling that I needed to push something out of my urethra when I peed or that there was something stuck. After dealing with this for another week, I decided that I needed to make another trip to the ER. Once there, they did a CT scan and found that the 5mm never passed and was lodged at the bottom of my ureter and top of my bladder. Two days later I was in surgery having Lithotripsy to break the stone up and to have a stent placed. The night after surgery, I felt fine, thanks to the great drugs to keep me loopy but once those suckers wore off…holy hell. I laid in bed and cried and cried over the pain that the stent was causing me. I was furious that the dr. did not warn me that this sort of pain was to be expected. I suffered for the next three days. On the 3rd day I was to take the stent out myself via a string that was attached to the stent. I had read all over the internet about the pain that the stent removal caused so I did brace myself for the inevitable. As instructed, I laid down in a warm bath, took a deep breath in and gave the string a solid pull and out the stent comes. Not bad. Truly. For a female at least, can’t testify for a male. About 30 minutes later, the spasms started. I prayed that they would spare me but my prayers weren’t answered that night. Once they kicked in…they kicked in hard. So I took some advil and I took some Uristat. I think it was the Uristat that saved me that night. I haven’t read anywhere on the different forums where anyone has ever taken the uristat after the stent removal but I thought, hmmm, spasms…Uristat and it worked! I highly recommend it, but, I’m not a doctor so you should ask if it’s safe for you to do so. Unfortunately, the good feelings only lasted through one day and now I am back to feeling EXACTLY how I did on day 1. I have no idea what the problem is or why this is happening but I. NEED. IT. TO. STOP. Ugh. I am so sorry for everyone going through this. I feel like I am in a nightmare that just wont stop!!

  7. Kristy says:

    I would like to share my experience to hopefully encourage others and put their mind at ease….especially since there are not many good stent removal testimonies. I had severe pain on my left side and stomach area 4 months ago, back in March. Pain like I never had before. I have given birth to two kids without any pain meds, and I can now say that it’s really true….having kidney stones is worse than giving birth!! The big difference is that with kidney stones, the pain is relentless and so your body gets exhausted. After 3 hours of pain, I had to be taken to the ER and I was diagnosed with a 10 x 7 mm kidney stone. They put a stent in the next day to relieve urine blockage since my stone was in my ureter. My doctor recommended lithotripsy because he said my stone was too big to pass on my own. After reading about the risks of lithotripsy, I decided to try some natural remedies (chanca piedra, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice). I didn’t try these remedies right away (was a little nervous) and I also was not consistent, so unfortunately, they did not work for me. I think if my stone was not so large, and if I had more time, I do believe that the remedies could have worked). By this time, since I had the stent in for 3 1/2 months and I wanted to avoid encrustation, I finally gave in and had the lithotripsy procedure done at the end of June. After passing my fragments of stone a few weeks ago, I had my stent removed (cystoscopy) yesterday in my urologist’s office. My experience was really not too bad. After reading several of the testimonies here, I was a bit nervous. The placement of the camera/tube was the most painful, but I would describe it as a quick sting. The other uncomfortable, but bearable part, was when he pulled the stent out. It was uncomfortable but not painful. So far, I have not have any spasms. I took the advice from the above article and took an ibuprofen one hour before the procedure as a pain prevention measure. I am not sure if that’s what made my experience a good one, or if it was because my doctor was extra careful because he knew I was nervous. I know not everyone has the same experience, but I wanted to share this to let fellow kidney stone sufferers know that not all the stent removals are painful. My heart goes out to those who are in so much pain from the procedure.

    • Bob Fester says:

      I recently had kidney stones removed with cystoscopy. Five days later, the urologist removed the stent. I had almost no pain during the stent removal or since. He gave me a medication to prevent spasms two days before removal; perhaps that helped. He also had his nurse use some sort of freezing agent–lotion?–up the urethra 15 minutes prior to the withdrawal. I had just the mildest of discomfort.

  8. Andrea says:

    Kidney stone removed Wednesday. Stent which was painful until Monday. Took xanax and hydrocodone for removal. Some pain, but excruciating pain started 2 hrs later. Went to ER. Given dilaudid, zofran. Still hurting. Given dilaudid and valium. Pain went away. 3 hrs later. Pain back. Took hydrocodone and valium at home. Still horrible pain. Went back to ER. Given dilaudid, toridol and zofran. Relief finally. Lasted a day and a half. Supposed to be leaving for Jamaica at 8 am. Lying here in bed hurting ( not horribly after dilaudid and valium) thinking I will have to lose my money. Scared to chance going.

  9. Madalyn says:

    On June 22, 2015, I was dx with a 4mm kidney stone in left ureter and a stent was placed that day.I went back to the hospital due to extreme pain, and the stent had dislodged apx 2 “. The MD removed the current stent, a stone in my ureter, another stone in my kidney and put in another stent (double J I think it’s called) on Wednesday the 24th. I have had a stent before for another experience with stones and I have been unable to tolerate it. I ended up in the ER that weekend due to extreme pain, but the stent was in place according to CT scan. I was administered Toradol, but it didn’t help much so they administered Dilaudid which helped a little bit more. It was removed Monday. I was instructed to take Motrin for pain but it helps very little. I will call my M.D. Monday but my concern is I never had pain this long after the stent was removed. I’m wondering since so much manipulation had been done to the “area” that it’s taking me much longer to feel better. Kidney stones are no joke and neither are stents! Only people that have had a stone can truly relate. I am truly hoping this situation gets better because it’s so disruptive to everyday life and painful.

  10. D S says:

    I just removed my stent this morning. Not long after arriving at chemo center for my first round of Rituximab I began experiencing horrific pain in my lower back and groin area. First thought is kidney stone but this got even worse! I have Dilaudid for pain and it did nothing. The nurse then gave me Tylenol as a precautionary measure before the chemo and within a short time the pain actually eased up some. Four hours into chemo and the pain reached the horrific level again. I took one of my hydrocodone with acetaminophen and thirty minutes later I’m feeling much better. When I urinate I’m paying some very large blood clots so it makes seems the pain resembles stone pain. I feel for all that experience this pain. I hope more doctors begin to warn their patients ahead of time so this can be avoided.

  11. Michelle says:

    I relate deeply and empathize with all of the experiences here. I had two attempts at surgery to remove a stone and after the 2nd was successful, then had my stent taken out in the doctor’s office 8 days ago. The first 5 or so days were ok. I had so much pain while the stent was in, it honestly felt like a blessing to be rid of it! However, over the last few days, I have had increasing pain throughout my uretal and bladder area. I have tried anti inflammatory drugs but they do not seem to help. This is my first experience with stones, so did not know what to expect. So far the complications with this stone and surgery kept me pretty much bedridden for a month, and now I am frightened with this new pain returning… I don’t know the cause of it or what to do.

  12. skumar says:

    I am having continuous pain in my ureter after seven days of my stent removal. I was operated for 7 mm stone in ureter by ureteroscopy

  13. jon says:

    How long after the stint removal does the pain last? Does taking an NSAID like Aleve work on the pain? Had a stint removed earlier today and now I’m im severe pain.

  14. Bob says:

    It’s been four years since I removed a stent and I’m still in a great deal of pain with severe body aches. Doctors so far have not figured it out. Been to six different urologists. Hopkins, GW, Georgetown, and private practitioners. Latest doctor thought acupuncture would solve the riddle. It did not. Definitely feels spasm like. Hoping a pain medicine doctor can give me something to help. There is an opium based suppository that is said to help with this. But it is very strong. Much stronger than the oxy I take throughout the day.

  15. Angela says:

    I just had my stent removed today. The pain is in my back and right lower abdomr . craps like never before. I took a half of a perc and its not touching the pain. When does this pain go away? Should I ask for a antiinflammatory pill till the swelling goes down

  16. Cindy B says:

    My pain before and after the removal of my 2mm left kidney stone has been excruciating for me. The stone was found April 28 when I had 2 bouts of severe pain in my upper left side with nausea, weakness and sweating and went to the ER. The CT scan showed ‘lesions’ on my liver and kidneys. My PCP was not concerned about my liver, but suggested I get my kidney checked. I went to a urologist May 4 (6 days later) with a follow up visit on June 1 (27 days later). At the first visit an xray showed the stone in my ureter. Because I was having pain beginning 19 days after that visit and continuing to the 2nd visit (lasting 10 days as of this visit) – and the pain didn’t seem to be a urinary tract infection – he scheduled the stone to be removed a few days later on June 4. My pain prior to surgery was in my pubic area like menstrual cramping with a knife poking into me and it hurt to urinate. It would take my breath away making my hyperventilate and I could not get comfortable and had trouble sleeping. After the surgery, my pain worsened to the point of being totally unbearable (maybe I’m just a wimp?)… My urine was dark red blood until today (4 days later). I went back to the doctor the day after the surgery and they said the blood and pain were ‘normal’… NORMAL????? Describe ‘NORMAL’??? He prescribed Flomax, Uribel and Bactrin and told me to continue my hydroco-acet for pain and/or Tylenol or Naproxen. The pain meds didn’t help any and the hydroco-acet made me nauseated. I am SO dreading the removal of the stent tomorrow. I really hope they give me a strong local anesthesia as I can’t even tolerate accidently touching the black thread hanging from my girly parts. I’m scared and in pain and just not happy…. I dread the fact that the pain will continue a while after the stent removal – and it’s MY luck the pain will last longer than a few days. I can’t stand up straight, can hardly walk, lost my appetite, and just can’t get comfortable. Tears don’t help. Riding in a car is unbearable, as is sitting – and even lying down hurts. I can’t win for losing… Thanx for reading about my experience. I hope others don’t go thru the maddening pain I’ve been going thru for the last 16 days and suspected several more days after the stent removal tomorrow… UGH!!!

  17. Daniel Vasconcelos says:

    I had my stent removed on friday And I Still Have some pain in my kindey. Acording to my doc, the stones were removed without Shock waves. After they remove the stent I experienced excruciate pain for few hours. I manage tha pain with targin And panadeine forte tablets. Today after 36 hours I still have some pain in my back Side.
    Is There a possibility of some Other problems?

  18. Dan D says:

    today I had my stent removed at the Doctors office. I was very nervous at what was going to happen. My primary doctor said I could take a Zanax 2hours befor my appointment and a Percocet an hour befor. I had no pain for the removal of the stent but once home when I urineate the pain at the end of my penis is unbearable. Does anyone know what I can do for this and how long it will last?

  19. Richard Estes says:

    This post saved me I went to the ER twice couldn’t sleep for 2 days They gave me hydrocodone, dilaudid, uribel, and cipro. Made the ER call the Urologist. Was searching the internet at 2am the 2nd night hyperventilating with pain when I found this. Just so happens I had naxproxen for a rolled ankle took 2 pills and within hour the pain was gone changed my life. I’m just upset my Urologist does know about this this is ridiculous how fast it worked. I’m going to suggest my Urologist that patients take naproxen an hour before stent removal hopefully he listens. Thanks So Much Dr. Nguyen!

  20. mike says:

    I thought I would relate my experience with a stent since this site has been very informative. It started with blood In urine but no pain….then a cystoscopy to check my bladder which was fine and then a CAT scan that showed a filling defect (a spot where the contrast would normally be seen but does not show up). The scan did not show a stone. I had a ureteroscopy and they found a 3mm stone that wasn’t visible on the ct scan. Stone was removed and a stent placed. The stent caused some moderate pain only when urinating…kind of a cramping feeling. The blood in urine continued the entire time the stent was in.

    After reading posts here I was very apprehensive about pain associated with the stent removal. Based on recommendations here I took one naproxen about an hour prior to the removal. It was removed by the urologist via a cystoscopy. This was my third cystoscopy so no apprehension about that…lidocaine into the urethra and only a little pinch as it went by the prostate. Kind of a strange feeling but no pain at all as it came out. My nerves were on edge for the next few hours as I waited for the pain to begin. I took another preventive naproxen about two hours after the procedure. I waited all evening for the pain to start but there was no pain at all. The first two urinations were still a little bloody…light brown urine…then that stopped by the next morning.

    I also had started FloMax right after the ureteroscopy for BPH so maybe that had some positive effect as well. In any event after reading some of the horror stories here I thought I would post a positive outcome. I feel bad for those who had a bad experience, but for those with a stent removal in your future, it may not it be a bad as you think it will be. I would recommed that you ask your doctor about taking a naproxen prior to the removal.

  21. Thom says:

    My doctor told me I might have some discomfort after the stent was removed. Three hours later I was back at emerg with pain worse than before surgery. This was my second surgical removal but first stent out of 14 stones. The Doc at ER said there were no more stones, which had been my first thought, and that the pain was due to inflammation of the ureter and clots of blood blocking the ureter just as a stone would. Same treatment as for the stone, pain killers and lots of fluids until it passes.Three days later I am still suffering the after effects of the stent. Have your Doctor prescribe an anti inflammatory with a pain killer before stent removal to minimize the possibility.

  22. angie says:

    Kidney pain after a stent removal….I had kidney stone removal almost 3 wks ago with stent removal a wk ago. I was put on Cipro, morphine and Diclo. The morphine made me puke, so I took Tylenol. I think like a lot of people, I am one who does not swallow all meds unless it is stressed to be important so I took the Diclo for the first couple of days after the stone removal (also the prescription said take as needed) I was ok for the 1st two days after the stent removal but then got increasing pain that Tylenol did not help with. Monday night I thought I was going to die of pain. I finally fell to sleep around 3:30 a.m.with pain coming back later (now Tuesday)around 1:00 and increasing. 5:30 I called my pharmacist to see if there was any other pain killer I could take and she commented that the anti inflammatory I was on would help more than any pain killer, except I was not taking it and since it is not written on the bottle, who remembers exactly what each pill is for! I took her advice and took one around 5:35. I suffered with 9/10 pain until 7, eventually going to the hospital. Waiting room was packed. As we were waiting, all of a sudden, almost like a switch turned off, I realized the pain was gone, I mean GONE. The moral of my story is patients need to be told by their doctor and even the pharmacist what meds they have been put on and why and what will happen it they do not. The bottles should tell you what the medication is , i.e. what it does, my case – an anti inflammatory. I looked on line everywhere for answers but found no clues so I really hope this helps anyone else that may be suffering like I was.

  23. sarah moxon says:

    I had my stent fall out the same day of my surgery hours later. Omg the pain is horrible my Dr said if it was bad enough to go to the ER.well it’s been 5 days and the spasms come and go I hope this ends soon.By the way this is my 3rd kidney surgery and I swear the pain gets worse.

  24. kristen says:

    I had litho a week today with stent placed removed stent myself which I’ve done since I was 18 I’m not 32 I pass several stones a month but every now and I have to have a little help it’s been 5 days since the Stent was removed and I’m still experiencing severe pain it’s worse then the stone pain my urologist just telss.me to go to the er but I’m not paying someone to tell me what I already know! Praying the next day or so these pains will go away it’s miserable

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