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

  1. LJ says:

    I had Laser surgery for large kidney stone on Monday 11/21/16 in which Dr inserted a stent. I have never had anything hurt this much in my life. I have had 5 other surgeries with no problem. I was told I could take it out on Friday. I am still passing blood and tissue. Nurse stated I should only see blood for a couple of days. This morning an new problem has arisen; my bladder is constantly urinating. I do not even know it. It does not make any difference what I am doing Sitting, standing, ect. I have gone through 12 outfits today. I absolutely have not control. I can go the the bathroom and pee. I will sit there for a while and nothing. I get up to wash up and get new clothes and look down and am peeing all over myself and the floor. I have not called my Dr office as they never return calls. It ruined my Thanksgiving as I was not able to travel and was unsure if I could even make a dinner. My daughter had some maxi pads. They are drenched and leaking within an hour. Has anyone else had this issue?

  2. Sarah says:

    Hi my name is sarah. I just got another stent. It has been 3 years since my last one. Don’t remember the last one hurting as bad as this one. This about the 6th episode since july. The doctor removed one and i passed some but he just kept treating symptoms. I switched to another urologist, had a 10mm stone in my left kidney.he said had been there since April,! The other guy wasnt worried about it ! Thats why i was still hurting all this time! So i got this stent, after laser surgery. Was suppose to have it for 2 weeks. Because of the holiday, he is taking it out in one week. . It hurts so bad, feel like my kidney is being stretched while my bladder is being stabbed. Atleast this urologist is concerned and trying to find out whatbis causing them. He found my parathyroid is 144 and normal is 14-64. And that causues kidney stones. I didnt know there was such a thing. So now i have to do nuclear test and have thyroid removed. Can’t wait to get back to normal

  3. Ya right every day it gets worse. I've been emerg 2 more times with uti's mild meds given which aren't helping at all. the amount of times the pain is so severe I need to pee now I could cry. Terified to laugh blow my nose cough.... I got a speeding ti says:

    Wow I am so glad I found this forum. Everyone has made me feel like a wimp, though I’m a tough cookie. Oct 23rd rushed to hospital 3am in severe pain to find out I had one 9mm and one 1cm stone right kidney. Finally he 25th at 8pm I got basket extraction. the stones were to big so they Lazered them and put a stent in also saying mild to no discomfort

  4. Jessie anderson says:

    I have had chronic kidney stones since I was 7 yo. This is the first time, as an adult, that I’ve gone for treatment for my stone. The pain was so great.
    Hence, my first stent experience. My Dr was the same, in and no big deal,back to work. Was white said. I had no fear of it. I woke up with an instant urge to pee, burning and irritation. It’s day 2 I’m urinating blood with some clotting and the discomfort of it is worse than my stone was!!
    Needless to say, I think I’ll stick to passing them on my own from now on. Ouch!!
    These past few days have been horrible.

  5. Jessie anderson says:

    I have had chronic kidney stones since I was 7 yo. This is the first time, as an adult, that I’ve gone for treatment for my stone. The pain was so great.
    Hence, my first stent experience. My Dr was the same, in and no big deal,back to work. Was white said. I had no fear of it. I woke up with an instant urge to pe

  6. Jeff says:

    Question.. last week I went in ER for pain. They said I had 2 stones a 1 mm in the left and 4 mm in the right. They put stints in ok minor discomfort when I urinated some blood.. I go back in yesterday they laser remove them take out stints and put new ones in.. now only when i urniate I’m in more pain than what brought me to ER.. weird thing is I’m fine in between.. it’s not burning in my penis it’s the pain that feels like getting stabbed or being in the middle of a truck pulling out a tree.. dr.s won’t call me back.. anybody have any kind of insight or advice please. I’m scared to pee and about to go back to ER.

  7. sherry says:

    I do not like the feeling of the stent, actually I hate it and I am miserable, but believe me I had the first one out to early and it caused me so much pain and many trips to er and another surgery and a stay in the hospital to drain my kidney, 2 more weeks for me to get this thing out of me, cant wait counting done the days

  8. tanya says:

    Hi Guys, i wish my nightmare would end. i have recurring kidney stones. i probably had 20 procedures in 6 months, Dr’s are struggling to find out what is causing the stones but up to now, to no avail. i’ve had PCNL, nephrolithomy, laser, cystoscopy’s and and and..
    i currently have a stent in my right side, my left stent was removed two weeks ago. somehow for the first two weeks after stent placement i have minor discomfort but in the third week the pain gets so severe that i can barely sleep. it feels like something is constantly poking to push through my bladder. when i urinate, i get the urge to push like my bladder is contracting, the pain is so severe to the level where i feel i can pass out. has anyone experienced that? the blood then flows like a river and you can see its fresh blood. this is probably my 12th stent and i can assure you it never gets better.

    i have used tramadol, tramahexal, gem pain and and and nothing helps. i than discovered Voltaren suppositories 100mg, it honestly works wonders, only problem is i can only use it once a day and i choose to take it in the mornings to cope at work, as far as sleep goes, i have lil to nothing. once i wake up to urinate the pain keeps ,me up all night.

    i’m having laser surgery Friday, my urologist will most probably remove this stent and replace with new one, i am literally counting down the minutes.

    i’m from south africa so BTW, if here’s anyone who knows of a way to subside stent pain and discomfort, please let me know, i’m desperate.

    email: tanya.beukes@yahoo.com

  9. Tina says:

    Feel bad that I am writing again. This is my third time. I have had my stent I since May 28th. It was suppose to come out In July but had to be put back in because I still had some damage. Hopefully, it will be out by October 14th. I am still in pain and pass red tissue substance at times. Really thought the pain would be less by now. Every time I work out there is pain. Just afraid the stent will have to remain in me. Also, what about the pain and discomfort when it is taken out. Seems like a no win situation at times. Aleeve does help some but not all the time. Thank you for this sight it helps

  10. Ben worth says:

    Hey.
    Had a stent put in on the Saturday arvo. Went home fine. Then Sunday arvo came and I was straight back to the ER needing morphine and fentanyl. Discharged home. Next night and the incredible pain came back. Went to ER again and needed morphine, fentanyl and ketamine! Been home for a couple of days now and I can’t walk properly, eat properly and when it comes to passing urine I need to bite a stress ball to help! Please take this stent out! I was warned of mild discomfort but this is insane! I want my normal life back!

    • Jeff says:

      Question. I’m only in pain when I pee it feels like someone twisting a knife inside me and goes to my back.. doubles me over makes me sick.. I lay down on heating pad and it subsides.. then I’m fine with minor discomfort but ok.. only when I have to pee.. just had stones removed and new stints put in.. they say I have to have them in til monday. I didn’t have this pain with the old stints. Did this happen to you. Please help with advice if you can thanksjeff

    • MZ says:

      Hi Ben,

      is the pain any better now? I abt to get a stent and put in and im terrified!

  11. robert says:

    I just had my stent removed two days ago and it was a fairly pain free procedure. Everything felt fine and then 2 days later I went to the bathroom and felt a pressure building when I peed and a blood clot shot out and I was peeing blood whereas I wasn’t for the 2 days before. I called the DR and was told that it is common and that the blood should dissipate with each urination. It has, but my paranoia has not subsided. Has anyone else had the same experience?

  12. Indra subedi says:

    A stent is placed in my left kidney and for which i was facing burning sensation which now made my entire left flank of my body in real problem.My left hand,thigh,foot etc (only left parts of my body burns),flow of hot blood across veins of my left thigh makes me uncomfortable.20 days after my removal of stones i have been facing such problems.i have been drinking 6 litres of water a day (cooled after being boiled).I am taking “S stone” (K citrate,vit B6,MgCitrate Oral solution).
    infection? Or due to friction btwn stent nd urethra? Even my left hand becomes numb nd hot.

  13. Mick says:

    The first time I had stents they caused constant, strong, urges to urinate and horrible pain while urinating – both a stinging/burning and kidney pain. I was very close to calling the urologist and asking if he could take the stents out and put the stones back in.

  14. Anthony Fusco says:

    My dr cant take stent out til oct, Ive had it in for six monts, is it okay?

  15. Brenda says:

    It’s so good to know I am not alone in suffering with my ureteric stent. I have had one for 8 weeks and have almost forgotten what a normal bladder feels like. I eventually had my 1cm stone lasered last Saturday and am due to have the stent removed this Friday. My stent has a wire outside so am hoping it will be fairly easy to remove. Some of the urology doctors made me feel like I was a wuss and now I have read the comments on here I realise just how painful these ureteric stents are. Maybe all trainee Urologists should have to experience these first hand as part of their training!!

  16. Diane says:

    Hi, my name is Diane. I have had a 6mm stone stuck in me which was never gonna pass on it’s own. It didn’t even show up in the cat scan with contrast. I had ureterscopy done and had it blasted plus a stent put in. I had this done Monday and it’s now Friday Today is the first day I felt a little more normal. Thankfully the hydrocodone with acetaminophen works good with no side effects. I’m not passing hardly any blood unless I do more activities. It seems that since today I’m doing more, I have more irritation on my bladder. It feels like the stent is rubbing and irritating it and makes me feel like I have an infection. I get my stent out on Monday so I just have to get through the weekend. My overall experience wasn’t horrible but I don’t want a stent again lol. I have an excellent urologist though.

  17. Gracie says:

    This has truly been a nightmare! Went to the ER to find I had a 7mm kidney stone. I was admitted and told they would be doing a procedure to break up/remove the stone the next evening. Never saw the doctor doing the procedure til 10 minutes before. He explained what they were going to do and that they would need to put a stent in. He said I could go right back to work (never asked what I do for a living) and I would come to his office after a week to have it removed. When I got home from the hospital and called to make the appointment, I was told because I have no insurance I must pay the full amount (including the hospital procedure) before he will remove it. The bill is almost $1700.00. They refuse a payment plan. It has now been over 4 weeks. When I work, (I am a server on my feet for 7-8 hours) the pain is severe. I get to the point where I can not pee. I went back to the ER only to be referred back to the same doctor. No other doctor will get involved. I do not see an end in sight. This amount of money is impossible for me to come up with. I am very worried as to what will happen over time when I can not get this out.

  18. Joanna says:

    You are all wonderful and I’m so grateful to have found this site. My kidney stone pain is about to make me murderous. It’s insane how these bastards repeat…and I DO drink water. I don’t get it.

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