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

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Of note, the medication used in the study, rofecoxib (brand name Vioxx), was withdrawn from the US market in 2004 due to concerns about cardiovascular side effects and it is no longer available.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 website.
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156 Responses to Severe pain after stent removal: How often does it happen and can anything prevent it?

  1. Kristine Payne says:

    Had my procedure on the 9th of November. Yesterday I woke up and went to the bathroom at around 5:30 am or so and after finishing I began to wash my hands. While doing so I felt like I just peed my self. I got back in the toilet and you could hear urine just dripping into the toilet. I knew at that point that my stent had slipped out of place causing me to leak urine. I had to wait till 8:00 am to call the doctors office. Leaking urine is the equivalent of your water breaking! It is the most disgusting feeling ever! When I called the nurse st 8:00 we discussed briefly my symptoms and she agreed that my stent is out of place and put me on hold. Came back and said “can you come in this afternoon?” I was like oh my god are you kidding me, this afternoon?! Do you know what it is like to leak urine?!” She said “fine come in now.” I said “I’m on my way.” After the removal of the stent she told me there could be some discomfort. While I was taking my daughter to daycare I experienced “some” discomfort. About 1:00 pm I started to feel excruciating pain, I called the doctors office and they said that this normal and to get a heating pad on it and keep up with my Percocet. I pretty much want to kill this doctor, he made this procedure out to be a walk in the park. I have gone through 4 waves of excruciating pain from the spasms since the removal. I am praying that they stop by the afternoon because I am due to leave state till Saturday night. I most certainly can’t be dying in pain while in a van full of kids and my pastor! The worst part is….I am supposed to have at least 3-4 more procedures to break up the stone in my kidney and he wants to do one every two weeks! I pray that the damn stent stays in place when he puts it in the next time!

  2. richard says:

    oct 22nd had ureteroscopy done for 6mm stone. on tues 27th i pulled out my stent, 2 hrs later i had significant pain that lasted 1& a half hrs,1 & a half hour after that, more significant pain. next day, one half the pain in morn. for half hr. afternoon one half pain for one half hr,that night, hard pain for 1 hr, passed 3 clots. next day, morn 1/2 hr mild pain, that night hard discomfort for 2 hrs passed some debris in urine. next day no pain. i just wish that the medical profession would sharpen their skills in communication, i had no idea this would occur. all i can is ENJOY THE DRUGS.

  3. Steve says:

    I had an outpatient Ureteroscopy procedure to remove a 6 mm Kidney stone and a stent placed on Friday Sept 25th 2015. I was told urinating would be painful due to the stent allowing urine to flush back up into the kidney and was given Hydrocodone but the pain was bearable without it. I returned to work the following Monday but was only able to work 1/2 a day due to discomfort for a couple days but was back to full days by the end of the week. Urinating blood on and off depending on how active I was but this was normal I was told. I had the stent removed 6 days after the procedure in the Drs. office. Took about 2 minutes and discomfort was minimal. Nurse told me that 50% of people may have pain after stent removal, Dr. said it was more like 5%-10%. I went back to work after the stent was removed but within an hour the pain started to set in and I had to go home. Took 2 Hydrocodone and it didn’t even phase the pain which I would scale it as a 9 or 10. I could not function or even sleep. Pain lasted about 5 hours then good for the night. Back to work the next morning but pain started in again by 9 AM. Back home and more Hydrocodone and pain only lasted 3 hours this time. This went on for 3 days after stent removal. My urine cleared up within 2 days after stent removal. That was 3 weeks ago and so far I’ve been pain free. The pain will pass, just takes longer for others I hear.

  4. So when i went in for my kidney stone procedure,I was told it ould cause me a little discomfort and a few days off of work.Then I would be fine. Foolishly I believed it. First day I left the hsopital and returned to the ER that night cause I couldnt urinate. I got a catheter. Tons of fun. Went and saw doctor the next day and he gave me some meds like Uribel to make the “discomfort” bearable. Discomfort,huh,more like nazi torture pain level.Then while I was at the doctor they decide to Ultrasound me to make sure all of them were broken up to move. Were they? Nope had to go back in a week later for the same torture.I been in the ER two other times cause they pain was so bad i thought something horrible had happened. I was told its normal and to take more more pain meds. Pain meds that make me super sick to my stomach. So I been in pain for a month,havent gotten a straight answer from my doctor once, had two catheters,3 trips to the ER,barely eaten anything. missed a month of work and I am still in pain and urinating blood cause i stretched the other day. I still have to get the right stent out. They took the left one out after the second procedure.It didnt hurt at all but knowing my luck I think i have to miss another week of work and go through another week of ordeal. Been a blast. I am so hostile due to the pain, my room mates avoid me. I dont blame them. I cant wait for the ER bills and I hope I dont lose my job. From here on in I am just going to pass the stones the old fashion way. I have had heart failure for 10 years and that hasnt even touched the amount of torture this last month has been. If you have to get a kidney stent EXPECT the Worst!!!!

  5. Lizette says:

    I feel everyone’s pain. I have just had the worst 2 weeks of my life. Long story short, I had kidney stones requiring surgery. They left a stent in place for 4 days and removed it yesterday. So far the doctor didn’t warn me that I would have any pain after removing. I thought this nightmare was over. Boy was I wrong. I get these strong renal colics probably spasms that feel worst than when I was passing the stone. I could barely breathe when this attack comes on and it last about 1 hour. So far I had 3 yesterday including one last night at 11pm. I’m afraid to return to work like this. When those come on, I can’t function. As soon as I feel the right side hurting just a little I immediately take a pain killer because it’s coming. I then get in the shower and run hot water. I also rub some eucalyptus oil over my kidney and wait the spasm out and hope for the pain medication to kick in. I’ve been out of work a week and 2 days. 😕 I want this over so bad.

  6. Steve Covic says:

    Removal was fine but had severe pain now for second day.
    Called surgeon that panadol not helping so prescribed tramadol.
    Wait and see lying in bed with a hot pack under right kidney.
    Pain is worse than was caused by the initial stones.
    Surgeon did say could be caused by a clot formed from lasering the stones.
    Let’s hope tramadol helps it is unbearable!

  7. Daisy barry says:

    I’m due to have my stent removed and the day can’t come soon enough,my last stent got encrusted as they tried to remove it,it got stuck and had to have put back in for a g.a to get removed 😓
    I’m sooooo scared there is going to be a repeat of the same,will comment on here if I get any pain!😔and hopefully all will be well.

  8. Jeremy Rittenhouse says:

    I had a stent removed with hardly any pain during the removal. Once I had the stent removed , the pain in my groin and right kidney returned. Feeling as though I was passing the stone all over again. So far suggested ways to relieve pain has not worked. The pain level is about a 9. It’s been about 4 hours and the pain has not eased up.

    • Di says:

      Oh yes I feel your pain. I accidentally dislodged my stent just after being discharged less than 24 hours after placement. The surgeon suggested I take Endone to help. Have taken 6 in last 24 hours. I always thought I was a tough cookie when it comes to pain but this is unbelievable. Currently have a heat pad on the area awaiting my next dose of Endone.

  9. I passed a kidney stone back in March 2015, at home. Ended up at the doctor office. He sent me to a Urology, he place stents on the left and right side on 4/07/15, out patient Surgery Center. He took the stents out on 05/29/15, because I was in the hospital a week before he took out the stents, (with an Infection). I had requested that the stents would be removed because I had a lot of pain with the right side, and had been sore on the right side the whole time they were in me. that when he decided to take the Stents out. I had requested that he would put me in as out patient at the Surgery Center. Had to go to a Duke Doctor, my primary Dr thought that I had a slip Disk because of pain on the right side. The Duke Dr gave me some medication, and I’m still sore on my right side, I think I have Scar Tissue. She gave me Diclofenac 75mg, and Tizanidine 2mg. It took a way the pain, but I’m still sore on my right side and cannot laid on my right side. I have been trying to reach this doctor to find out why I’m still having this soreness on the right side. I will continue to try to reach her for help with this matter. Any information would be helpful. Thanks!

  10. Devi Yankee says:

    I had the stent removal and was okay until about an hour and a half later. Was driving home and picking up kids. Took hydrocodon two and then the anti spasm drug. No relieve. Ice pack between my legs because when your numb no feelings. When my legs got numb I had to stop ice pack. I saw this site and read about the baths. I am writing this in the tub. The pain is subsiding, but I’m scared. I have to return to work in three days. If I have these symptoms again I can’t function. I also argued with my Dr. about refilling a rx for pain. “Just in case” he told me ” it wasn’t necessary! “. What the f? I feel better. It’s been six hours of pain. I pray I will be ok.. The pressure in my groin a baby is making its way out! I had 2 csections but have to say . this is worse then when I broke my spine…God bless to all take azo and bath and good luck… Gonna go try the Naproxen sodium now …xoxo

    • Gemma says:

      I have just read about this and it gave me great relief as 2 hours after my stent has been removed, my kidney ro my bladder has gone in to spasm, thank god I had vesicare to stop the spasm after 2 hours and 2 tablets and can FINALLY relax and write. This website is the only thing that has kept me sane for the last 5 weeks, it’s just great to share information. I’m in the UK and find the usual NSAID, paracetamol and good old hot water bottles together with antispasmodic are the only answer. Just awaiting the result of my 2 x 24 urine collection as apart from a narrow ureter and being quite young to get repeat stones, my consultant is undertaking a metabolic screen to see if I’m over producing something to cause the stones. Apart from awful pain, the care I’ve received has been great.

      • Matt Appleby says:

        Had kidney stones over 18 months ago.Two ops and a stent inserted and then removed.In between 2 ops stone disintegrated due to medication prescribed.However still have dull ache on and off in flank all this time after.Scans x2 and 2 x rays over this period revealed no problems and no stones.How can the pain go?

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