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

 

This entry was posted in Patient's perspective. Bookmark the permalink.

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

  1. Anthony Fusco says:

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

  2. 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!!

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *