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:


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

  1. Kevin says:

    I’m glad to find this article and know I’m not the only one with this pain from my stent. I had a lythotripsy half a week ago to break down the stones in my left kidney and had a stent put in when they discovered that there’s so much scar tissue in my tube that it’s causing an obstruction. My doctor told me it would be painful, but I had no idea how much. He said I would be fine to go back to work tomorrow. With how I’m feeling now, there’s no way that’s happening. All I can do is lay down on my back to relieve the pain. I thought my frequent kidney stones were bad enough, but knowing this pain is going to stay here for 3-4 weeks until my stent is removed is pretty terrifying. It also doesn’t help that Tylenol and Tramadol don’t help either. My heating pad does wonders at least.

    Simply knowing that others are going through the same thing and making it through the ordeal helps put my mind at ease.

  2. Sharon poole says:

    I had my stent fitted after being took in for PNCL I think it’s called. My kidney stones was in a difficult position and was extremely hard for my surgeon to do. But he did and put a stent in to help with the little bits that had broke off. I have never experienced pain like it, I cannot move far stand for long do anything because I feel like I want to were and the pain in my stomach really really hurts. Just got up today and been trying to potter around but the pain got worse and reduced me to tears its that bad. I am having my stent out on Thursday thank god as giving birth doesn’t hurt as much as this. Can anyone say if they are seeing normal or not. I don’t think I am seeing enough for the ammount I am drinking so if anyone can let me know I would be grateful. Roll on Thursday

  3. Nikki says:

    I am on my 2nd stent in the past year. Mine is due to damage done to the ureter tube during my hysterectomy. My kidney has stopped draining on the left side and caused big issues. I am scheduled for surgery Feb 12th to try and rebuild and correct the damage. I will be getting my third stent then. No matter what I do I get no relief. I figured d a heating pad and a recliner helps the most. But Lord I bet I pee at least 75 times a day. And sleep none.

  4. Richard says:

    I am currently on day 7 of hopefully only a 2-3 week period with a stent. I am so glad I found this site as I thought it was just me suffering. I was meant to have laser stone removal for three stones in my left side. But unfortunately as my ‘tube’ was too narrow my specialist has had to fit a stent to stretch the tube between my bladder and kidney so she can get her laser up and have another go soon. I have to say I have never experienced pain like it. While the initial stone pain was immense, once it was controlled after a few hours I could move quite normally with no discomfort. Since having the stent put in I can honestly say I’ve had nothing but discomfort. From constant pain in my back and groin. The top of my leg is also aching and I get pain in the bladder and while going to the loo. I was discharged from hospital with paracetamol and ibuprofen which doesn’t even touch the pain. Like others the only positions offering any comfort are lying down or sitting in a reclined position. Walking is extremely difficult and I can only manage about 5 mins before really struggling. The specialist was hopeful for me to return to work after a week but standing, sitting or even moving for any period of time even after a week at the moment is impossible. Luckily from my last few trips to a and e with the stones I have some naproxen and diclofenac left which I have been experimenting with (not at the same time of course). I have been avoiding the oral morphine as my specialist advised against it as it can cause more problems with constipation and putting extra pressure around the stent and thus causing more pain. I have to say the diclofenac suppositories work the best providing some much needed relief and I would definitely say anyone who has the need to try it. The only thing really getting me through it is the fact that hopefully in a couple of weeks it will be over. Just waiting for a date for the second procedure. Unfortunately I will have to go through it all again on the right side to remove another 2 stones. I know how important it is though and can only look forward to being stone free.

  5. El says:

    This is my second go round with a stent…I have a chronic obstruction which needed ballooned open…the first time sucked…so does this one. Feels like a razor blade is in my bladder, Dr wants it in for two to four weeks…I had Dr office fill out FMLA leave… I have to lay on couch lots of pillows under knees and lots under my head..heating pad on…counting the time down to when I can have another pain pill..I’ve xrayed people who have had a stent in for months to years and act like its glad to see I’m not the only one who have a low tolerance for them.

  6. Dawn says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you…I really needed to read this article and responses as it has helped me understand what I have been experiencing the last week. It wasn’t until today that I too figured out that sitting on a hard flat surface, or tilting my bed up helps out so much. I am having similar symptoms as many of you, like frequent urination, irritation, and lower back pain, all slight but ever so annoying for me to talk about. I am on Flomax but it doesn’t seem to help very long or do much. About 2-3 days after my surgery I didn’t feel the irritation, must have been all the other drugs I was on. I will say sitting flat, laying flat, and definitely not walking around helps.

  7. Dawn says:

    I had a stent put in due to complications with my Gall Bladder operation. At first it was fine but then the back aches started, my body started to swell and I got such a horrific abdominal pain I thought my appendix had burst. The stent had caused a life threatening infection through out my entire body. After 10 days in the hospital on Antibiotics the infection was under control. I had the stent removed surgically and am finally getting back to normal. If I can avoid it, I will never get one again.

  8. Joy says:

    I had a stent put in my left side to open up what my Urologist says is a blockage. I had no symptoms, they only found it because of a MRI I had done. I had it out in The and here it is Sat and I’ve been to the ER 3times!! After my procedure I wasn’t told wether I could go back to work or not so needing the money I went o work the next day. What a mistake!! I am a caregiver and care for a quad so its heavy duty work. The second day with the stent I cried my way thru work and ended up in the ER with a stabbing pain! I was given dilauted and it helped. 3rd day stayed home, 4th day felt ok so went to work. Once again I cried my way till the end of my shift. By time I got home I was so sore and tried to just take the oxy 5ml they gave me and relax. Well after being home for a hour I was in excruciating pain and had to call 911! I was given Dilauted again but with another pain med not sure what I was in such a pain filled haze. After crying and praying to God for the pain to stop I finally gained relief from the meds. This was the worst pain in my life and I have 2 children with natural child birth. I figured out that I’m just gonna have to take the time off work until I get this stent out in a week. Hopefully I won’t ever need it again!!!

  9. Malcolm says:

    As all of the above I can sympathise with you.Over the past 4 month’s I have had stents placed in both Kidneys.I was told it was to straighten the tubes from the Kidney to the Bladder as some how they had become twisted and were begining to block the tubes.
    I have had nothing but pain in my bladder since,it is a nagging pain that refuses to go even with pain killers.A simple matter of walking irritates the bladder and feels as if you are being poked all the time with a a sharp needle.And cause me to feel like urinating all the time,but sometimes only a thimble full will come out.Also Blood returns at time’s.The only relief is when I lay down.And you can’t spend your life on your back.

  10. Ns says:

    I had a stent due to obstruction flow of urine .I was in pain so bad I had it removed after4weeks .I now have to have amother stent in place I am more scared because I no of the pain and hv been told it has to stay in for 3/4months.

  11. Kmaree says:

    Ive had 2 right stents in the last 2 months, most recent one was put in Christmas eve 2015 and the one prior was placed october 27th and removed November 14th.let me tell you I am so over this crap. I’ve had uti issues since I was 3 due to a congenital condition called megaureters (in the words of my urologist my ureters are so massive that urine just pools up and becomes stagnant and full of infection) now I have a yeast infection in my kidney which we tried treating without stent to no avail. At this point I have to wait to see a peds urologist (I’m 22) because they know best how to operate to fix my ureters (because most of the time this is fixed when covered by a peds uro at 1.5cm or above.. Mine are above 5 inches or about 12.5cm)and the stent is in until that happens and until I heal from the procedure… I hate stents.

  12. mike says:

    This is my second stent placement and im not gonna lie its painful as much as the first one i got last year hopefully getting it removed in a week but i found that a heating pad and laying down provide the most comfort from the pain tramadols and tylenol 3 dont work unless you have vicodin or some stronger pain meds id say that and a heating pad are gonna be your best friend for several weeks until you have the stent removed i hooe everyone a speedy recovery and god bless

  13. samresh says:

    On 18th dec 2015, stone was removed from my right kidney by lithotripsy and stent is inserted for two weeks, but there is severe pain in my right side. what i have to do?
    Doctor had change the pain killer but it is not giving satisfaction.
    Kindly suggest what i have to do?

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