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

  1. Shawn James says:

    11/27/16 had a stent put in my right kidney, Felt unpleasant but I worked through it. 12/30/16 Had the stent taken out and the 10mm stone blasted but they were causing too much bleeding and stopped, put another stent in the same kidney, also put one in the left kidney because of a 1.5mm stone almost to the bladder but didn’t make it out. Now I have two stents I can not physically work because of the pain. I can only lay or sit to be comfortable, even driving hurts! Waiting on a phone call to find out when the net procedure is? Stent placement is uncomfortable I use Ibuprohin 800mg and 5 – 325 hydrocodone, this helps but not long term. I have used oxybutynin for bladder spasms but not much help. I used pyridium for awhile but it seems the pyridium makes it irritated more after using awhile? I use the heating pad a lot which helps sooth when sitting or sleeping at night. I have searched and searched the only comfort is to not move much stay on strong pain killers or remove the stents! I feel all of your pain and discomforts. Stents just suck! I say never again! never!

  2. Crystal says:

    I have suffered with kidney stones since 12 yo, I’m 52 now. Most of the stones I’ve passed on my own, as they were small enough, a painfully process, but I’ve managed. About 8 tears ago my kidney stones were too large to pass so I had them surgically removed, since then I’ve had smallish stones and used over the counter meds.
    I have had chronic “backache” for the past, my GP has been treating me for a pinched sciatic nerve, about 3 weeks ago I was feeling really ill, cold shivers, goosebumps, fever and light headed, I went to a pharmacy on the Sunday late afternoon, and while explaining what my symptoms were I passed out and was taking to the ER. After doing a X-ray and MRI they found 5 kidney stones the largest being 1.6cm, the smallest being, .7cm, none of them are coming out on their own, I’ve had a Stent put in until I can see the urologist on 9 Jan, they are going to use shock waves to shatter the stones…
    The pain I go through every day is unbelievable, my first morning wee is bearable, but everything after, and there are many toilet trips, the pain is beyond anything I can explain. I was actually googling to find out if you could from pain, because I honestly thought that I was going to die, it’s not getting any better, working has become just about impossible, and being self employed as a driving instructor “if I don’t work, I don’t earn”, so I have the stress of mounting bills, constant pain 24/7, dreading going to the toilet to wee as that is when the pain is at its maximum, living on antacids because the painkillers and probably the stress is causing heartburn, I have no appetite, and I’m feeling quite depressed. I try and look around me, as there are people who are worse off than me, but it doesn’t stop me from feeling so out of sorts and being ungrateful. The only time I have some relief is when I lay on my back, laying on either my left (Stent is in my left) or my right side is uncomfortable.
    Not a good Christmas or new year in store for me I’m afraid.
    We’ve been invited to family for Christmas Lunch, and just the thought of having to put on a cheery and happy face de presses me even more, plus the fact that I will probably be spending most of my time on the toilet…..
    I’m just so over this already.
    How much pain can one person endure!!!!

  3. Kelly bird says:

    I went in on October 22 for what I thought was a normal kidney infection only to find out 3 days later I had a Golf Ball sized kidney stone. After the first attempt to put in a stent failed they inserted a drain tube from my kidney out my back contacted to a bag to hold my urine from my right Kidney. One doctor said my kidney was not savable and only functioned at 20%. We got a 2nd opinion and he felt is was savable with a shock-wave treatment. After the 4th attempt to they were finally able to do an internal stent and remove the one from my back…And the doctor, who has never had a kidney stone, said mild discomfort would be expected. In my mind mild discomfort is a blister on your foot or a sprained wrist…This is pain….laying on the couch or bathroom floor bawling. The first shock-wave was not very successful and they want to do at least 2 more over a month and a half period…At this point we are looking for a new doctor that will actually remove the kidney. With 6 kids I can not live this way….in fact I do not feel like I am living at all right now. I lay on the couch 24/7. If I would have found this sight prior to the internal stent I would have never done it.

  4. Jen robinson says:

    I had a blockage of my ureter so a stent was placed October 6,. The pain was horrible. All in my lower back. I couldn’t find a comfortable position at all. I also have a 4 month old baby, so picking her up makes it worse. I went back November 22, they removed the stent and did pyeloplasty and placed a new stent. The first couple days wasn’t bad at all. But now, it’s unbearable!! I am urinating so much blood and there are some sort of chunks in the urine. I am able to cope with the pain as long as I am not active. It’s hard to do that with 3 kids. So ready for this thing to be out. I’m glad I found this forum. I thought I was just being a baby about the pain.

  5. 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?

  6. 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

    • Kyah says:

      Why do I have this pain in my hip? I just woke up from the pain and I realized I was on my right side of my hip the whole night and I had excruciating pain. I can’t move that well. But I can still move it’s just hard to. Does anyone know how to fix this. If you do please help. It hurts so bad and I have work today

      • Kyah says:

        Guys if you have a problem like I did, then all you need to do to get rid of the pain is to find a spot to sit down, get an ice pack and lay it where the hurting part is. You can also watch a movie or two because it takes an hour to make it settled.

  7. 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

  8. 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.

  9. 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

  10. 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.

    • Jacques Lebreton says:

      Hey Jeff, I have the same problem as you. It hurts like someone is stabbing me in my kidney after each time I go urinate. Did you find a way to make that situation more tolerable?

      Jacques

      • scott says:

        ive had stent fitted to bypass 6mm stone that’s stuck in my ureta 5 weeks ago.took me 2 weeks to figure out that to reduce strong kidney pain when urinating I simply had to push harder. to stop pissing razor blades drink as much water as you can. having stent and stone removed on Wednesday.

  11. 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

  12. 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

  13. 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

  14. 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!

    • Linda says:

      * Oops, put this in the wrong place too! It was supposed to be in response to Mick.* Me too! VERY VERY strong urges to ‘go’, to the point where I’ve come close to not making it! And a couple of times where I didn’t. Embarrassing to say the least. AND since I’ve been getting over foot surgery, my husband bought a commode which is only 2 1/2′ from the bed and I Still barely or didn’t make it! THEN I’ve been getting excruciating pain for at least 3-4 hours post ‘going’! One stone was 5mm (gone) the one is coming up is 8mm. I had a Urologist appt. two days ago, & they moved the appt. I am Not exaggerating when I say my heart just fell in disappointment! He only operates every other Thursday, which is the day after the appointment ~ so I don’t see surgery happening for at least two (maybe more) weeks. I honestly don’t see being able to wait that long! I blame the stent!
      I did not want the commode (flashback memories to my poor grandmother) whom I have a new appreciation for what she had to have been going through! But thank God my husband did buy it! It has a bucket with a cover, a toilet seat And a toilet seat cover, by the time all that’s dealt with, I’m in a flurry of activity to get it set up & worrying about not making it. Stabbing burning pains for that 3-4 + hours post ‘going’. I already have a sleep disorder, try hopping up every 10-15 minutes to ‘go’ to that. . . . I AM exhausted!
      I had 2 kidney stone operations about a year & a 1/2 ago, one was 5 mm & the other the size of an almond he said! This is WAY worse; like I said excruciating! To the point of tears (& I am Not a crier by nature!). I am beside myself with painful agony! ! ! Percocet + 3 Ibuprofen isn’t touching it. . . at all !! !! !! I honestly DON’T think I can make it another 2-3 weeks! I just want a really big plug! And I honestly Don’t know what to do! Because it’s my gut hunch That’s what he’s going to want me to do, wait for another 3-4 weeks! He wouldn’t if it was his problem! He’d be calling one of his buddies for sure!
      Any ideas or helpful suggestions. HELP! ! ! PLEASE?!

      I too am glad I found this site!

  15. 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?

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

    • Linda says:

      I am in agonizing pain! This is 3 out 4 stones. Stent put in the 1st time ~ I don’t remember pain like this a year & 1/2 ago! 1st stone was 5mm, 2nd stone he said was the size of a large almond! The urgency is So strong with this one (8mm) I feel like I’m not going to make it in time & embarrassingly enough a couple of times, I didn’t! As I am still recovering from tendon lengthing surgery, my husband bought a commode, which I didn’t want. (Flashback memories from my poor grandmother). Tho it gave me a new appreciation of what she must have gone through! And I still barely make it (or don’t entirely!). And the commode is only 3-4′ from the bed!
      After that I get several hours of excruciating pain, which I’m blaming on the stent. . . I HATE IT!! !! !! I have a sleep disorder, try sleeping when you’re hopping up every 10-15 mins to go to the bathroom & hoping you make it in time!

      Any ideas or helpful suggestions? I could Really use them!

      I too am glad to have found this site!

    • Linda says:

      I completely understand Mick!

  18. Anthony Fusco says:

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

  19. 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!!

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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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