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

  1. Dee says:

    Hi guy’s,
    Was just in the hospital for 5 days being diagnosis and missdiagnosis. Finally they removed a kidney stone and placed a stint in place. Lots of cramping blood when peeing. Feels like I have another uti. Anyone else?

  2. B says:

    Hi my name is B I had bilateral stones lazered on Friday last week with 2 stents inserted. I had some discomfort for the first 24 hours was bad but I found that the opiate meds didn’t make and difference but diclofenac suppositories really helped up until today, 4 days post op. I woke with a sharp pain last night and after urination it was unbearable. It has settled somewhat today but I was just wondering if pain increasing instead of decreasing normal? My urine is still full of blood but I’m not too worried about that. Thanks

  3. Tina says:

    Went in on July 28th to have my stent removed after 2 months of pai and discomfort. I still couldn’t pass my urine so the stent had to be put back for another 2 months. I was hoping it wouldn’t hurt as much the second time around but I am sitting in my chair with sharp pain in my bladder and still bleeding when I urinate. I just don’t know about another 2 months of this but I know I need the stent. Thank you for this sight I just don’t know who to talk to or who else understands. Thank you for listening😣

  4. Ernest Leith says:

    My god! I freaking knew it! I knew the whole “slight discomfort” was a lie! I wanted to end my life due to the misery of the pain your in. Think on a scale from one (being no pain) to ten (being the worst), it’s a freaking 20! It’s like doubled or tripled the stone attack pain! There’s no relief at all, take the drugs! Don’t even bother relying on ibuprofen  (it ain’t gonna help, at all) don’t even think tyenol will take the edge off cuz it won’t! Both will be like taking a placebo sugar pill!  The first one I had, I made them remove it early due to the amount of pain I was in. I’m currently due to get a “ureteroscopy with a possible stent” bull, they are gonna put the stent in. It’s a 6mm stone that’s stuck high and hasn’t budged in 4 weeks so I asked them to go in and remove it but I said NO STENT! They looked at me like I had 8 heads when I said the pain is unbearable! And scoffed at me saying “surely it can’t be that bad” and I said I would never wish this on my worst enemy! Ugh I’m scared! So terrified they will screw me over and put in a stent anyways! Wish me luck! (I’m so going to need it 😭)

  5. Roger Meekings says:

    I have been a kidney stone sufferer for nearly 20 years. I had a stent fitted, but after a while it was giving me all kinds of complications. It was decided to have it removed prompted by my GP. This was done under a local, the nurses were making me feel very relax with idol chatter about nothing, when the surgeon gave one almighty yank and removed the stent which had encrustation growing on it. I jumped off the table screaming and cursing while hopping around the room, it was the most pain feeling I have ever experienced. I was told it was the only way to remove the stent, with my body relaxed, had my body of gone tense, they would of struggled to remove it. That was 20 years ago, I am at present waiting to go into hospital to have a second stent remove and laser treatment on the stones. You have no idea how much I am praying that there has been advancement in 2016 to remove stents…….this is 100% true. It makes my eyes water just thinking about it.

  6. Sue says:

    I have had one kidney stone and one stent, and that’s more than enough for me! Honestly, the stent was just as bad (if not worse) than the kidney stone! I have begged my urologist to remove it, but he said it needs to stay there until we determine the kidney stone has passed. I had lithotripsy, and the stone came out in small fragments. So, I just want him to do an x-ray to determine if the stone(s) still exist in my kidney. The gravity of standing is painful, and sitting with my feet elevated helps. It’s a constant discomfort with urination being painful. I do take Urised to help, but the pain is still there. After 5 weeks, I am so ready to have this stent removed! Drink lots of water and a gallon of REAL lemonade each week, and I’ve been told you will never have another kidney stone! I’m going to change my diet so I never have another kidney stone!

  7. Carolyn Stone-Zeigler says:

    I had a large stone blocking the left distal ureter today. Stone was removed and stint placed. Problem: For the first 8 hours I have been able to urinate without difficulty. Still no difficulty with urination – that is the issue. I now have incontinence. Is this a normal side effect or something that I need to notify my MD? How long should I expect this if a normal issue after placement?

  8. staci says:

    hi everyone. I’m a frequent flyer with kidney stones. Been dealing with them sense 2004 with many surgeries because I am unable to pass them. This year I had a lithotripsy on July 14 2016 for a 4mm and 7 mm in my left kidney. plus several more in both kidneys but doc only worked on the 7 and 4. last Friday had to call 911 in pain and couldnt walk was admitted into hospital with 2 stones both 4mm stuck near my bladder in ureter tube. Had ureteroscopy on sat. this time putting a stent in. My first experience with a stent and right now I would rather deal with a kidney stone stuck then the pain I’m feeling with this stent. :( Also have very heavy blood in my urine almost the color of black with blood clots. Is this normal? thanks

    • Alex says:

      Go to the doctor or ER immediately if you are have blood clots. That is not good at all. It may not be due to the stent but the procedure. I just got mine done today and my paperwork says if you begin to urinate bright red or show clots.

    • Dee says:

      I’d rather have the stone as well just as much pain and cramping. Lots of blood in pee. Feels like I have another uti. Hoping you feel better quickly hang in there

  9. Ann says:

    I am female in my late 50’s
    I had to have a stent inserted because I had a blockage of the ureter at my kidney and my kidney was a bit swollen. As someone else said, probably because of the drugs they give you at the hospital, I felt fine afterwards for a couple of days… Then the pain started. I didn’t want heavy duty drugs, so I opted for Tylenol 3, which hardly touched the pain. Lots of blood in the urine and pain at the end of each pee. That lasted about two weeks.

    I thought I’d be ok after that, but then the bladder spasms started. OH boy! Miserable is the word for those! They come in waves of agony. At times, standing was unbearable. It was ALL I could think about. I called the urologist and asked for a prescription that helps but doesn’t take the spasms totally away. (Oxybutynin 5mg) WHY the F did I have to ask? They should AUTOMATICALLY prescribe them for people with stents. Your bladder is saying “hey, there is a foreign object in there and I
    want it OUT”

    Anyways, that was over two months ago and my symptoms have gotten worse. There are times that my whole pelvis feels inflamed and angry, and it just about kills me to even sit down. When it’s bad, it feels like my bladder is trying to come out through my urethra and that I have to pee all the time even just after I’ve peed. I walk bent over. A bumpy road (to our cottage) is excruciating. I found myself lifting my body off the seat by my hands for relief on the bad bumps.
    As for having sex? Are you kidding? Not even a chance with this going on. A good thing that I have an understanding husband lol.

    I was told that I would be getting it out August 16, so I called and re-booked an earlier appointment for August 4 (in two days) I was told by the dr’s secretary that this appointment is for a consultation… A freaking consultation? He was supposed to take it OUT on the 16th according to him when I booked it. This smells like a rotten deal
    and he will just make more money from our health care system on a 5 minute consultation, rather than just take it out on my appointment date. I wonder how many other people have these “consultations” and how much extra cash-Ola that the doctor
    is making on these? When I go there, his waiting room is full and the patients waiting for their appointments are spilling over into the hallway.

    My conclusion at this date: stents aren’t for sissies. If you doctor mentions the words “discomfort” or a “bit of pain” they aren’t telling the truth. They hurt, and at least in my case, it doesn’t get better. Symptoms just change from one problem to another.

    I just pray that when I get mine out that I won’t need another. If kidneys weren’t such an important organ, I’d just say take the problem kidney out of me instead.

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