What should I expect when I have my stent removed? – Updated results from a KidneyStoners survey.

We know that the prospect of needing to have a stent removed is a big source of anxiety for patients. While almost everyone can’t wait to have his or her stent out, not knowing what to expect during the removal procedure can be just as bad. To better prepare you for your procedure and perhaps relieve some of your concerns, we asked visitors to the website who have already gone through the process to share their experiences with you. The results of our stent removal survey follows. Thanks to everyone who replied and let us know what you think in the comments below.

Method used for stent removalHow are people having their stents removed?

575 of you have responded to the survey over the last 3 months that it has been up. The most common method of stent removal was through the use of a flexible camera placed in the urethra (cystoscopy) in the doctor’s office, with almost half of respondents reporting this approach (45%). 17% instead had their stents removed using cystoscopy in the operating room. 12% removed their stents themselves by pulling on a stent string while the last remaining 26% had their stents removed by having their doctor’s office pull on the string. Our post on stent removal describes these techniques in more detail.

Pain experienced with stent removalHow much pain should I expect?

Pain with stent removal by removal methodOut of a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the worst pain ever and 1 being no pain at all, the overall average amount of pain reported was 4.8 or a moderate amount of discomfort. However, it may surprise you to hear that the most common rating given was 1, or no pain at all, chosen by 18%. So while some patients do report a high amount of pain with their stent removal, many had no pain or only mild pain. If we look at pain by method of stent removal, average pain was relatively higher for those who had their stent removed by office cystoscopy (5.4 out of a scale of 1 to 10) followed by doctor’s office string removal (4.9), operating room cystoscopy (3.9), and self string removal which had the lowest reported amount of pain (3.8). However, these differences between method of removal are not dramatic given that the scale goes from 1 to 10.

Recurrent pain after stent removalWill I experience pain afterwards?

Recurrent pain by removal methodMost patients had no pain or only mild pain after their stent removal. Unfortunately, a third of patients (33%) did experience a severe attack of pain after their stent removal, including an unfortunate 9% who required a return trip to the emergency room for their pain. When comparing recurrent pain by method of stent removal, severe pain occurring after stent removal was more common in the self string removal group (43%) and less likely in the doctor’s office string removal group, office cystoscopy, and operating room cystoscopy groups (26%, 33%, and 33%, respectively). It’s not clear why those who pulled out their own stents were more likely to report a severe episode of pain afterwards. There is some evidence that taking a tablet of an NSAID medication (naproxen) before removing your stent can help reduce the chance of experiencing a severe episode of pain.

expectations with stent removalHow did the experience compare to what you expected?

Overall, 35% felt the actual stent removal experience was not as bad or not nearly as bad as they expected. 27% reported that their experience was about what they expected. 15% felt it was a bit worse and 23% felt it was a much worse. Reporting the pain as much worse than expected occurred in 27% of those who underwent office cystoscopy, 24% of those who had their stents pulled out by the clinic, 20% of those who pulled out the stent themselves, and 15% of those who had a cystoscopy in the operating room.

Would choose this again by stent removal methodIf you had a choice, would you choose this option again?

Those who underwent operating room cystoscopy to remove their stents were most likely to choose the same technique again (65% replying probably or definitely would choose this method again) followed by self string removal (59%), doctor’s office string removal (55%), and office cystoscopy (50%).

While we asked respondents whether they would choose the same method for stent removal the next time, not all options for stent removal may always be available to you. For example, your doctor may choose not to use a string if he or she feels that your stent needs to remain in longer than a few days because the string can easily get snagged and the stent might accidentally be removed too early. Secondly, stent removal in the operating room is not always an option because: time in the operating room may not be available, the risk to you of undergoing anesthesia again may outweigh the benefit of having the procedure done in this fashion, the costs to you in terms of time and money involved in scheduling and preparing for an operating room procedure may not be worth it. We recommend that you talk to your doctor to go over the best option for stent removal in your particular case.

Priorities as a patient:

We asked respondents how much of a priority certain things were to them as a patient with a stent. Being informed why a stent was placed was the biggest priority for respondents (4.7 on an importance scale of 1-5). Being informed about what was actually involved in the stent removal procedure was also a high priority (4.5). Being able to have general anesthesia was a moderate priority (3.1) while being able to see a video/diagram of the process was a lower priority (2.9).

Okay, what’s the bottom line?

Most patients reported an average amount of discomfort with stent removal by any technique. Many patients actually reported no or minimal pain but about a third reported significant pain. Removal by office cystoscopy was associated with more pain on average and removing a stent yourself by pulling on the stent string was associated with less pain on average. A third of patients may experience a delayed attack of severe pain after their stent removal. Overall, about 62% reported that the experience was not as bad or about what they expected but 38% said it was a bit worse or much worse than they expected.

 

Editors note: Post updated on August 29th with additional survey results.

About Dr. Mike Nguyen

Mike M Nguyen, MD, MPH, is a urologist and an Associate Professor of Clinical Urology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC in Los Angeles, CA. He specializes in the treatment of kidney stones with both surgery and dietary prevention and the in the treatment of kidney and prostate cancer using the latest robotic surgical approaches. He sees patients at clinics located in Los Angeles, Pasadena, and La Canada, CA. He is the founder of the www.KidneyStoners.org website.
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251 Responses to What should I expect when I have my stent removed? – Updated results from a KidneyStoners survey.

  1. Nancy says:

    Had my stent removed at 12:30 today in office, no string. The procedure itself was not painful. About an hour ago I started experiencing cramping in my ureter and kidney….now it’s everywhere, front and back pain. Pain level is about 7:( Has anyone else experienced post stent pain like this? My doctor says it’s normal.

  2. Joshua says:

    I am one of the few who welcomed the stent. I was in so much pain due to my stones blocking by right Kidney. I have had the stent in for 5 days now and the minor discomforts (pain urinating, frequent urge to void) are by far better than the 10/10 pain I was in with the blockage.

  3. Paul says:

    Had several large stones around 24mm in size in left kidney. Had two sessions of lythotripsy initially and fragments completely blocked urethra. Then Surgeon decided to do internal laser treatment and inserted a JJ Stent which has been in for a month now. I have been urinating blood constantly throughout that month with constant burning, cramping and abdominal discomfort. Surgeon has decided to remove Stent on Thursday and must admit that I am concerned to say the least about the removal if the pain of having the stent in is any comparison. Wish anyone getting a stent all the best!

  4. Janie says:

    First of all, thank you all for your comments, it really does help me. On April 12, 2017, I had a 1 centimeter kidney stone removed, ouch!! Yes, I have a stent. It has been very painful. I have tried to manage it with as little pain meds as possible because I don’t like feeling pain and the pain meds side effects. This pain is very bad though. On Wednesday, I am suppose to go to the Dr. Office to have the stent removed. I am so very scared. Strongly thinking of doing it myself. Thanks for the advice or any other thoughts. Also, I am sorry for anyone that has gone through this. Life stops when you are going through this and that is hard. People who have not been though this have a hard time understanding the level of pain. I hope that never will.

  5. Roberta says:

    Being a great stone maker since I was 17 years old and now I am 66, the drs. joke how I could have a nice size necklace with all I have had in my lifetime. I am certainly aware each time one is ready to travel as I start with the jolt in my left kidney and it progressively worsens until I hit the ER and get a shot of pain meds. I was just diagnosed with another 10mm stone last week which they pulverized (as well as blasted the others that were in there, something no other Dr. has ever done for me, they just take the one I’m there for) that alone was wonderful. Then they placed a stent in and tomorrow I go to have that removed in the Dr.s office. This will be my second stent since 1996 when I had a 10 mm stone blocking my kidney and by the following evening I was on a respirator with septic shock due to it lodging and was near death. Dr.’s informed my daughters that IF I came out of it I would possibly be a vegetable based on all my organs shutting down. Nearly a month later I had the stent removed in the Dr’s. office and I tell you that was Not fun. When I came out of my coma I learned that my fingers and toes had become gangrene and they needed to amputate all my toes. I know this may have been a freak thing, but I surely get pretty anxious these days whenever I feel a stone coming on.

    I kinda think the not knowing is better than when you know what to expect. Tomorrow I go to the office for this one to removed and I am a nervous wreck. I have a pretty high tolerance of pain and truthfully cannot remember if there was lasting pain after the first one in 96. I am so exhausted from this constant backache and lower stomach pain I’m assuming is from the stent (feels the same way as when I first went to the Dr to find out what the reason for the pain was. Feels as if I am having heavy duty menstrual cramps and horrible back labor. I only feel my stones on my left side so I had no clue they were going to tell me that this was another one, I thought maybe appendicitis and was shocked with the CT Scan showed a stone blocking my left kidney. So as someone mentioned when you feel pain, check it out. You just never know because I believe it is a warning sign that something isn’t right. Believe me this one was a total surprise and I am just glad that I listened and went into the VA to check it out. I am just hoping that because it was not placed as long as the one I had before it will remove with little pain and little discomfort, although I Know there Will be some….Ugh I do think also after reading some comments I Will take a codeine prior who knows…..Maybe even two. I’m also taking in some questions as to what medication can I take that will help me in not producing as many. I believe I was once placed on potassium citrate Urocit-K? But will certainly ask because if there is a medication that will help these to not form believe me I will be faithful in taking it again. Best of luck to you all and I wish you all the best….Definitely Not Fun!!!

  6. Scott says:

    To overcome severe pain of stent, I found that drinking extra amounts of water/fluids made the pain go away.

    And I noticed that when I got dehydrated, the stent pain became greater. So I started drinking anything I could get my hands on and by keeping my fluid intake up, pain went back down and then eventually away.

    Just some friendly advice from someone who’s been there.

    -S.

  7. I AM HAVING MY STENT REMOVE TOMORROW AND MY NERVES ARE SO BAD RIGHT NOW,BUT YOUR SITE HAVE HELP ME SOME,

  8. Lisa Carty says:

    I had my stent removed yesterday in the doctor’s office. They used lidocaine and the removal was uncomfortable, not too bad. Left and got in my car then BAM! The onset of a severe pain attack set in. So incredibly painful I thought I was passing another stone. Almost turned around to go to the ER.

  9. george C says:

    have had 7 awake angio/gram/plas proceedures…also 5 urology/stone asleep proceedures ..2 stent removal awake now getting ready for #3 removal and its 30 days in…told local anaesthetic… Haven’t relaxed since.. about 3 hrs sleep last ngt…Blood pressure last few days 185-75 pul 65. feel stressed to say the least.. Going to see Local Dr–at hospital pre admiss said “up to surgeon” but his paperwork is for Catheter/stent and exam with local ana.. So up in air..Got to find way around this. Can’t write some of my thoughts..Hosp staff are skilful / kind but without empathy. Going to Tell local Dr.. sort it out I’ve realised being mr nice guy is not always the best policy.. Question is how to get result or decide on what path to go.

    • george C says:

      George C reply/edit .. thoughts are whizzing around. all I would like is a ‘sleep or out of it’ procedure…I would not cause anyone pain or discomfort ,wish all well..Hopeing for resolution.. will post result.. advise all in this situation to be more questioning prior to starting. admit I was emergency admit..so have lots to be grateful for…but doesn’t help present stress.

      • george C says:

        previous comments… add to …Saw local Dr aft/noon..said no go..can any alternative to local anasthetic be found..Of course he said. He wrote letter to Hospital saying I had a phobia etc…Here was me thinking I was just a woose..Wow do I feel better, got a bit of sleep last nite..So if your panic stricken… Slow down..see the local Dr.. Now having read more on local, it dos’nt seem as bad ,especially as I am going to avoid it.. .

  10. Stephanie says:

    I had a stone removed on March 21, with a stent in place until March 25. I pulled the stent out at home in a warm bath as instructed, but the pain afterward was nearly as bad as what brought me to the hospital in the first place. If the stone pain was 10/10, this was easily 7/10. Increasing my pain medication seemed to help, although I am currently pregnant and am cautious to take too much. More than 24 hours after the stent was removed, I am still in considerable pain, and have had to rely on regular Tylenol, as I ran out of the prescription T3s. It’s not really helping.

  11. Ms. Billie M. Spaight says:

    MY stone is 1.8 cm. You read that correctly–centimeters. It’s a large thing. Totally blocking ureter. Stent in. I hate it. I hope they can zap this nasty old stone soon and get the stent the heck out.

  12. Corey Meyer says:

    Getting stent removed tomorrow the 24th, had my ureteroscopy to remove 8mm stone on the 16th…only experience I’ve had with anything close to stent removal was getting my bladder examined with a cystoscope. It wasn’t painful but certainly uncomfortable when they went through the prostate. I’m assuming that stent removal by cystoscope is the same thing with the extra tug and feeling as the stent comes out along with the scope. Probably not horrible for most people but I’m certainly nervous!!! I’m wondering if the amount of time the stent stays in correlates with the pain…I hear of some people having their stents in for several weeks! That sounds awful, maybe I’m lucky that mine has only been in for 8 days, as tissue probably has not has time to form around the stent. I’m sure if your ureter is inflamed then stent removal pain is probably more unpleasant.

    Good luck to all, I’m sure that the anticipation is the absolute worst part regardless of the pain/discomfort…either way, getting the stones removed and getting that damn stent taken out is a step towards (hopefully) being pain free! Hang in there everyone
    -Corey

    • Angie says:

      It’s good to know that not only I am going through the same symptoms as you, Corey… I had my kidney stone stent removal this morning and I am experiencing some excruciating pain right now. Doctor didn’t prescribe no pain meds ~ only told me there will be some discomfort. I too, had an 8mm stone… but had my stent in for 10 days. It was the most uncomfortable 10 days i’ve ever had! I thought having the stent removed would make it all better, but I was wrong. It feels like I’m having the stones all over again and feels like a have to pee every 10-15 minutes! I’m waiting on my doctors call to ask him a whole bunch of questions that slipped my mind during the stent removal. Like what you said, Corey, good luck to all who are experiencing getting a stent in ~ and out. Having kidney stones is painful ~ so everyone who is reading this, please, please take care of your health and drink lots of water to stay hydrated and to keep your kidneys healthy… Much, much Aloha to all…

      • Barbara says:

        I had a procedure today 4/21/17 to break up a kidney stone In left kidney & a Stent to be placed in left kidney. So they went in to do procedure well they found no stone which must have passed. Never had this problem before. So they still did put a Stent in which is so painful & uncomfortable. Stent will be coming out Tuesday still Good luck to you all

  13. Dusty Horne says:

    Pulled it out about an hour ago, and so far so good! Little harder to pull out than I thought but no pain! Thanks for all the post! Waited till I had to pee really bad started peeing & pulled ran a hot bath

  14. Shyam Hans says:

    There was infection in my right kidney because of stones in my kidney. Dr removed one stone and a stent was installed in. Plz tell after how long this stent is to be removed and there some more stones in the kidney, how those can be removed , my kidney is functioning 24 percent

  15. Dusty Horne says:

    The whole time it was the same stone! This caused my kidney to swell and a lot of inflammation! And OMG THE PAIN . I had surgery at my local VA hospital and a stint was placed, I’m fixing to pull my string now, I’ll post when it’s over

  16. Dusty Horne says:

    I was diagnosed with having past three kidney stones since last July after having a lite heart attack. Another words three trips to the er and each time the er doctors tell me I’m passing a separate stone, a 9mm a 7mm and 6mm

  17. Susan Dickins says:

    A stent removal from urether is not painful but discofort, and you are more anxious knowing its to come out and you are awake seeing a male doctor doing procedure pain 1. Actual time of stone blockage released from cortex is 91/2 out of 10, it’s crucifying pain. My heart rate dropped extremely low and it was extremely low due to the pain I was in. Name: Susan Dickins, Wodonga

  18. Brett says:

    Just had my stent with string attached removed. Went to the doctors office as I was too scared to do it myself. It was uncomfortable, only for a second while the nurse pulled it out. Afterwards, it’s all good. Overall it’s not bad at all.

  19. Selendra Barefield says:

    I just had my ureter stent removed. It was in my Dr’s office. They used lidocaine and the removal felt a little weird but it was quick and not painful.

  20. Melissa says:

    Im getting.my stent removed tomorrow morning and I’m afraid of the amount of pain i may have. One of my best friends had removed his on his own saying there is only a bit of pain and it feels more strange than anything. I’m hoping its the same for me. Wish me luck!

  21. Youmara says:

    My stent was removed at the doctors office the pain was mild but after I left the doctors ooffice the pain grew little by little which I had until about 2 am the next. The results aren’t the same to all pateints.

  22. Jerry T Johnson says:

    I had 5 large kidney stones removed, on the right side 3 stones ,of different sizes 25mm 27mm & a 30mm on the left both were 29mm they put in 2 stents & O.M.G. the pain of these things are worse than the stones ever were ran through the 20 oxycodone in the first 3 days after surgery. Those had to be refilled, that AZO isn’t worth the money I paid for it, supposed to be having these stents taken out today or tomorrow gonna request an O.R. removal had the string once already that hurt a lot, but had the O.R. before it was like taking a nap & waking up to no more pain. little bleeding afterwards but no pain.

  23. tom says:

    Going to have mine out tomorrow. I was diagnosed with high grade carcinoma. Wish me luck.

  24. Kristi Collins says:

    I had a 13mm kidney stone that I complained about for over a year. Dying in pain and Dr kept telling me I had an on Going UTI. Never checked me for stones. I demanded a cat scan and sonogram where they found 5 huge cysts and this massive stone enlarged in my right kidney. I’ve never heard of a stent before but I will never forget it now. The pain is unbearable. I am getting it taken out in a few days but calling to see if he will take it out sooner. I’m Goin to the office for it and dreading every minute of it. Wish me luck!!

    • Kristi Collins says:

      Btw…this is my second surgery in less than a month . When your body tells you something…listen. If your Dr doesn’t listen, get a second opinion. I’ve never been in this amount of pain before. I’m so glad it’s almost over.

      • Kim says:

        I know how you feel. I got a stent put in on March 1, and they aren’t taking it out till the 20th. Ive been in more pain since I’ve had it. Its awful

        • Debbie says:

          Kim, I’m like you! The pain of the stent is way worst than the pain from the stone and my stone is a 3CM staghorn! I get my stent out today after having it for 2 months, trying to break the stone with Lithotripsey and can hardly wait. I’ll be having surgery on March 27th. I know it won’t be a piece of cake, but wish I would have chosen surgery to start with! It would all be over with by now. Prayer for you and stent pain! I UNDERSTAND!

          • guy bodner says:

            I find it funny how its not supposed to be too bad! I had a stent put in Dec08/ 2016. Bladder tumor removed, 30mm kidney stone removed and finally get my stent out this week! The ongoing daily pain and annoyance of the stent sure gets to you thats for sure.The surgery was the easy part! Good god Im glad its finally over!

          • Nilam Khan says:

            Hi all.

            Just to let u know. I’m 38 now and had kidney stone probs since I was 18.
            I have polycystic kidney disease and my kidneys also produce lots of stones. I have had lithotripsy 3 times, surgery 4 times to remove blocked smaller stones and x4 stents inserted and one major surgery to break and remove a large stone and had a jar of broken stones. I woke up to two pipes out of my kidneys and a cathetar as was in hosp for 6 days.

            Now my recent surgery was last week and today I removed the stent myself.

            Previously I went to the doctors office to have the stent removed. This time they said I could pull it out after 5 days. I have had a stent in for 3 monthd before and that ruined me.

            I have also passed x19 stones naturally and that was like giving birth so suffered the bruised ribs…nausea… sharp shooting pains and everytime I ran or did any heavy excercise…another Stone seemed to move and cause me grief. I have been eating healthy and trying my best to avoid food that can add to making stones. However I think u need your doctor to tell you what type of stone you’reproducing to determine if it’s your diet or kidney or both at fault.

            This morning…I got in the bath. Put the warm shower head directly where the stent woyld come.out from and took deep breaths in and out and although was anxious and uncomfortable.. I managed to do it. I took stong painkillers before to help with pain and moaned and swore at the stent when it came out. That blue plastic stent is gone for good… then took a shower and was still shaking…probably from the trauma I anticipated rather than what I actually felt… was not so bad but not nice either…

            I now have a hot water bottle to give me comfort and had a cup of tea after my shower and taking it easy. Hope you all find what works for you too.

            The pain I’m feeling now is probably because for the past few days I wasn’t able to pee as much as I needed to so now my bladder is going to empty itself out and will have a few days of discomfort.

            I wish you all good luck. Drink lots of water… Health is Wealth… Best Wishes…

            Nilam

    • Barbara says:

      Hi so when they removed the Stent was it painful for you. I get mine removed 4/21/17. Had it placed today 4/21/17 I hurt bad

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