From a Patient’s Perspective: The Ureteral Stent: Friend or Foe?

Even though different people respond to stents in different ways, I suspect anyone who’s ever lived with a ureteral stent remembers the experience.  I have had two, and both were, indeed, memorable.

Prior to undergoing a pyeloplasty, (a surgical procedure to correct a urinary tract obstruction) I was informed that a stent would be in place for about seven weeks.   I also recall being told, or perhaps reading, that such stents cause “discomfort” in some patients.  In my mind the term “discomfort” equates to nothing more than an annoyance or a nuisance, so going into the surgery I was not overly concerned.  For the first couple of days following surgery, perhaps because of post-surgical pain killers, it seemed the stent would be absolutely no problem.  I could hardly feel it.  “This will be a piece of cake,” I thought.

Then, shortly after going home, I became increasingly aware that some apparently sharp object was attempting to drill a hole through the wall of my bladder.  In fact, the image of a shish-kabob skewer came to mind.  At the same time, there was the sensation that something was tugging on my right kidney, trying to pull it down from its usual location.  It was difficult to find comfortable positions…and it felt as though gravity was becoming my worst enemy.  Urination was frequent and painful, and my urine continued to be bloody for the entire seven weeks.  Involuntary tears came to my eyes and waves of nausea were common.  Finally, I discovered that sitting in a recliner and tipping it back approximately half way seemed to relieve the worst of the pain, and that allowed me to get a little sleep at night.

After seven long weeks, I welcomed the removal of that first stent.  A generous application of lidocaine made the procedure entirely tolerable, and I watched on the monitor as the stent was grabbed and the upper curly-cue began its descent down through the ureter.  Once I was free of the stent, the relief I felt far surpassed the minor discomfort associated with its removal.

About a month later, I accepted a second stent with guarded optimism.  This one was placed following lithotripsy for a 1+ cm stone in my left kidney.  It seemed logical to me, since this ureter was not compromised or swollen, that this stent should not hurt nearly as much as the first.  Unfortunately, I was wrong about that. Once again, the same familiar painful and distressing physical sensations returned.  And once again I sought relief in the recliner.   The stent allowed stone fragments to pass, but I was elated to be rid of it after only three weeks.

The second stent experience left me with a new determination to do everything I could to prevent future stone formation.  If making a few adjustments, such as drinking much more water each day, can prevent new stones and another stent placement sometime down the road, then I was ready to change old habits.   Accepting the inevitability of new stones, then treating them as they become problematic, is no longer acceptable.  My new plan is to be well-informed and pro-active and do all I can to discourage new stone formation.  In fact, it’s the vivid memory of previous painful stents that continues to be the most powerful motivator.  In a way, then, those stents are still serving a most valuable purpose, and I should remain grateful for them.

Editors note: Bonnie writes about her experiences as a stone patient in her posts. If you have experiences as a patient you would like to share, feel free to add a comment or send her an email at: ask@kidneystoners.org

 

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168 Responses to From a Patient’s Perspective: The Ureteral Stent: Friend or Foe?

  1. Will says:

    Well. I had a 8mm stone laser on Feb 25. Left me with a stent on my left kidney. I was moving around better with the stone than I am now with this damn stent. Luckily I only have to keep it 5 days. But better diet and more water in my future due to this being the worst two weeks of my life!

  2. The country kid says:

    Hello all,

    A view from an Australian with kidney stones

    Kidney stones……….the most painful thing I have ever experienced….ever. My story started at 3:30am, I woke in immense pain thinking someone was trying to remove the lower left section of my back with a butter knife and out of 10 my pain was at 15 with no position able to give me any relief and trying not to vomit whilst praying to The Lord to take me know as I was ready to go and could not cope.

    I thought I would be tough as I have driven myself to hospital with a broken arm before but decided have my lady drive me to the hospital which is 45 minutes away as I did not want to disturb the ambulance drivers. What a mistake that was 45 minutes felt like 3 hours it took 3 nurses to get me out of the back seat and onto a hospital bed in the emergency bay. I was sweating profusely and screaming in pain and also left my lovely lady with vomit through the back seat of the car.

    Rushed into emergency and had 30mg of Trammadol IV,100mg of Morphine IV and 100mg of fentanyl IV over 30 minutes and still had a pain level of 9. I had a CT scan showing a 7mm stone blocking my ureter at the top. I was told the hospital could not perform the procedure required and was transferred to a private hospital in Brisbane via ambulance.

    I arrived at the private hospital and met by a urologist, he was fantastic!!!. He asked if I could have a shower as he would like to perform a procedure now by placing a stent in to allow the stone to be pushed up and out the way to allow the kidney to function correctly and relieve the pain. Even if I had to crawl across broken glass to get to the shower I would have done with a smile just to get the pain gone. I had a shower and down to OR.

    I woke up after the op and straight away I needed to go to toilet…….holy shit I thought they must of hit an artery as I have never seen so my blood coming out of me, and the pain!! I thought someone was trying to pull my kidney out through my bladder by using a piece of barb wire which was on fire. After 2 days in hospital with a lot of pain meds I was able to go home with the promise of laser procedure in 7 days.

    Having a stent feels like some has inserted a bent wire coat hanger inside of you and neglected to trim the sharp ends to say the least.

    The funny thing is that you are told to drink more and more fluids to help the kidney flush itself however trying to urinate every 25 minutes is to say the least is a knee buckling event and I personally tried not to drink anything as the pain was always waiting for me. After several days the pain stayed at a 5 and I made a decision to go back to work in my normal roll as a sales rep. That was also a mistake as I found myself concentrating on where the next toilet facility was whilst trying to deal with the constant irritation and pain not on my customers. Urinating was extremely painful and constant blood was always on display in the urinal, all that pain for such a small amount of urine. I started telling people that I was giving a blood donation to the urinal as there seemed to be very little urine there,I struggled for the 7 days until the laser procedure.

    I woke up from the laser procedure feeling the normal groggy way everyone does only to be met by the doctor, I have to say when the doc says to you ” it went ok but we had to use an expander to get the camera and laser in” you know you in trouble. I was told that they blasted the stone and I would pass a bloody slurry like substance over the next hour or so which wasn’t a problem however because they used an expander I would be in a lot of pain, I could deal with that part with the aid of pain meds. But I was also informed that I would require another stent in for 14 days as the risk of the tube collapsing was quite high due to the damage done with the expander.

    I have again struggled through the discomfort and irritation of the stent and I am due for removal this week. I can’t wait and if I could fit my hands up there or a pair of pliers I would gladly remove it my self

    I have to say that the stent must be the creation of some sick minded person and I strongly believe that all current and future urology doctors have one installed as part of there training so they can at emphasis with what we have to go through. I also must admit that I have enjoyed reading the other stories as some made me laugh and others made me feel for them.

    I will drink more water in the future as I never ever want this again!

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