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

  1. Gavin says:

    I had a 5 mm stone , was in agony for a day or 2 , having a ct scan to confirm it and wait a couple of weeks pain free for removal. Finally I get to have it removed via camera and laser , they put a stent in wich I’m guessing was what gave me pain during and after urinating for a few mins of dire pain , had the stent out after 4 days via doctors surgery, took a bit of messing around as the camera was new to him and couldn’t grab the stent first attempt, I’m now in constant pain in my side after 18 hours trying different drugs I can lay my hands on , hope it subsides soon might try get a prescription for some pain relief today . Fingers crossed as being self employed I need to be back at work ASAP

  2. Gail Germanson says:

    Wow! So glad I read this after my stent removal! I would have totally freaked out if I had. Just had my stent removed Monday. It had been in place for 2 months after a kidney stone had blocked my urerter and caused a massive kidney infection. The stent went from my kidney through my bladder. Had it removed in an OR. Aside from a little nausea from the anesthesia, the process was painless. Glad I’m not a male though, think it might be worse for guys!

  3. Lisa Smith says:

    I removed my stent this morning. This was my third kidney stone surgery and this was the worse. I was on vacation because my husband had surgery the first part of the week and I was having my surgery that Thursday. The four days left on my vacation was hell. Having the stent was uncomfortable I missed Church because of the way I was feeling. When I removed the stent I thought I was dieing I was in so much pain for hours heat was the only that easied the pain.

  4. Josephine Jones says:

    I had my stent removed yesterday after 7mm kidney stone removal due to negligence. It was really painful and my worry now is I have only urinated once since it was removed, even though I am drinking loads. Is this normal?

  5. Jessica Tarte says:

    I had my Gallbladder taken out on last month and I was in the hospital for 5 days and they put the steint in me and I go back to hospital to have them taken out the steint on dec 14 for outpatents and one day this time. This will be my last surgery and no more surgerys for me.

  6. Fran says:

    Have not had it out yet but one of the doctors surgical nurses said it’s like childbirth. Dreading this to say the least. What’s jacked up is this dr said he didn’t even believe I needed the stent but placed it “just to see”. This has been painful to say the least!

  7. Mark says:

    Here’s my stone story. I’m male and 64 years old. I’ve had a few stones in the past, but, this latest one wouldn’t pass, so, it had to be removed surgically. The typical prelude, growing back, side, and front pain that grew to a 10. Went to the ER and begged for some Morphine. After what seemed like a few days, they finally found a doctor to proscribe it. Ahhh, the relief. Consulted with the Doc and he gave me two options. 1st was to go home with pain meds and wait until a date for surgery. 2nd was to install a stint to relieve pain and allow urine flow from kidney to bladder. They couldn’t pull the stone at that time due to a suspected slight infection. I opted for the stint. That’s a decision I won’t make again unless there is a total blockage. The good news was that the 10 pain was gone. The bad news was that it was replace with a constant pain that ranged from 2 to 8 with moments of extremely painful urination that peaked at 10 again. The peeing of hot barbed wire wasn’t the worst of it. It was the kidney and bladder spasms that doubled me over. Add the fact that I was in the bathroom at least every half hour and it made for a miserable few days.
    After about 3 days of this hell, I called the nurses hot line to get some questions answered, such as, how long will this continue without some relief? My regular Urologist called me back and asked me if I had been prescribed Flomax and Oxybutynin Chloride for those spasms. I told him, no, just the antibiotics and Percocet pain meds (which I used religiously and according to prescription) that the ER doctor had prescribed. He said I should have had the other ones too and then I wouldn’t need the pain meds. Ok, nice to know now 3 days later. Got the new drugs and after a couple of days the spasms went away and the intervals between rushing to the toilet became longer. Still lots of pain urinating and with any exertion…..I’m talking even walking hurt. I also asked when the stone and stint could be removed. He said he didn’t know and would put me in touch with the scheduling department. They couldn’t give me a day either! Said they would put me on the list and let me know when the day would be, but, it looked like they were booked for about 6 weeks. I know I couldn’t make it through 6 weeks of purgatory like this, so, begged and pleaded for a sooner date.
    About a week later, I’m informed that I could get it done at one of their other hospitals a half hour north of me, in a week. Great, sign me up. It’s with a 3 Urologist now, but, at this point, I was not going to be picky. Nice doctor, gave me the straight poop, he’d pull the stone and hopefully not have to leave another stint inside, but, it was likely he would have to. Yup, he had to, due to inflammation around the site of the stone . Removal of the stone was totally painless being under another general anesthetic, but, the aftermath was still painful. Not as bad as the first one, but, the first few days was still Percocet time if I wanted to get any sleep at all. This stint was the outpatient removable string type and would stay in a week.
    Well, a few days go by and I’m actually starting to feel pretty good. The pain urinating had gone away completely and unless I exerted myself, I wasn’t in any pain just sitting or laying around. Now I’m faced with the stints removal. Super excited about getting it out, but, at the same time not looking forward to the procedure since they told me that it’s done without any anesthesia. I decided to go online and see what others have experienced. Found this wonderful site! Saw experiences from No Pain, No Sweat, to Worst Pain Ever. I also saw that some people pulled the stint out themselves. Wow, do I have that kind of courage? Called the nurses hotline again to ask some questions. Yup, no anesthesia or pain meds, and yes, I could pull it myself if I wished, but, keep in mind that sometimes the string breaks and then they would need to go in with a tool to remove it. Oh, and it could be up to 20 inches long. Yikes, that made me think for about a nanosecond before deciding to let them do it.
    I had an 8:30am appointment and arrived about a half hour early. Nobody there yet, not even the staff. People started shuffling in and I was getting more nervous by the minute. 8:30 came and went. At about a quarter to 9, I get the call. Went in the back and met the guy who was going to do the honors. Looked like a Hell’s Angels biker which didn’t help my anxiety any, but, came across as friendly, competent, and professional. I laid down on my back on a table with an absorbent pad and with my pants around my ankles. He told me to take a couple of deep breaths and let it out slowly. Took maybe 6-8 seconds and he was done. I was surprised how easy and relatively painless it was. It wasn’t pleasant, but, it wasn’t really painful either. A strange sensation. The closest I could describe it is: a mild bump on your elbows’ funny bone. Even that doesn’t quite describe it fully. Certainly wasn’t anything to worry about in my case. The aftermath was just as painless. I laid low for a couple of days, but, there were no issues at all. I did continue my meds for a day, but, then quit. No pain or blood while urinating and the stint pain was totally gone! Hurrah! It’s a bit over two weeks later while I write this and I have had no problems. It’s wonderful to feel normal again. Good luck everyone!

    • Ronald Raber says:

      See I have one 13cm big but my issue is pulling it out I have had a Massive Heartatac and 2 stntz in my Heart I take3 blood pressure pills to live I don’t like the idea of Pain I’m scared to have it done because of that I was so scared of needles and everything the night I had the heartatac they had to hurry up and put me under before I have worse problems I shy away from pain it scares me to much could they put me under when they pull it out that’s all I want

  8. Bob Allen says:

    Just had the stent removed after nearly a month in place after my kidney stone lithotripsy. I was dreading it according to all that I read and heard on the internet. Maybe I was lucky, but they numbed the penis with topical meds. 5 minutes later they come in and start the process. They were in and out in less than 2 minutes tops. The most uncomfortable part was the injection of the saline or water to lubricate and then once they pulled it out, it felt like taking a leak after you held it way to long and you finally got to let it go. I will wait and see about pain later in the day. I did take some NSAID about an hour prior.

  9. Ronnie says:

    I had a stent placed after having a partial hysterectomy my ob/gyn hit or scraped my ureter, I ended up in the ER a day after I was released and back to back surgery after surgery they finally put a stent in called “double j” omg it was very horrific and nothing I would wish on anyone I thought I was going to die….now I’m a day away from having it removed & I’m terrified!

    • Cheryl says:

      I had a laproscopic hysterectomy after finding that I had a mass in my uterus that was obstructing my left ureter so I had a stent placed. I just had my stent removed after 2 months. It was an extremely painful 2 months and there were days where I couldn’t even walk. Having the stent removed was like the same pain but more intense for about 10 seconds than just stinging for about 15 mins. I did have some back pain and some spasms later that night but I was able to control that pain with Naproxen and a heating pad. I feel great now 2 days after and can even run. Reading these scared the hell out of me.

  10. NASHO says:

    3 month ago I had removed stent but still feel some pain. it’s normal or big problem? I am very worry about it please suggest me.

  11. Tom Vaitkus says:

    The stent removal process was smooth and painless. My stent was removed (string by the doctor’s assistant) and took about 5 seconds. There was no discomfort other than a momentary and very slight tugging sensation.
    In restrospect the worst part of the entire kidney stone episode was not knowing it was a kidney stone (until confirmed by a CT) and the back and side discomfort associated with the initial onset of the stone. Glad it is over…and will be drinking lemonade more often going forward.

  12. Seth says:

    Hey guys read some of these and feel for you. I had an 8 mm stone stuck in my lower Ureter for a few weeks lasered. Had a stent in for five days. Well the doctor made the string a bit too short for my errect Penis. Morning wood was like waking up in a nightmare…no but it def did hurt. Doctor underestimated me. Anyway the doc pulled on the sting. I did nothing to prepare and it hurt A lot..like 8 out of 10. Lasted like ten seconds but it sucked. Now it’s two days later and I still have a slight often feeling of needing to urinate. Hopefully that goes away.

  13. Hope says:

    I had stent put in after kidney stone removal ended up in hospital for a couple of days bladder spasms kidney pain and bleeding. The stent remained for 13 days it was painful and uncomfortable I urinated blood the whole time. I had my stent removed via cystoscopy…. The procedure was slightly uncomfortable but did not hurt. About 10 hours later I had severe kidney pain and pain and urge to pee frequently. I took a couple of extra strength Tylenol it seemed to help with pain . I woke up many hours later with pain and frequent urge to pee took more Tylenol seemed to where off after four hours. So it’s morning and I feel some pain and constant urge to pee I’m hoping it will improve soon.

    • Maria says:

      Noooo. That 100% sucks!!! How long did it take to get better? My stent has to stay in for 2weeks and I’m only at day 4 now. So much pain and unbearable discomfort. Can’t wait to have this thing out but reading these posts makes me realize that might not be the end of my struggles. This is so horrible.

  14. Phillip says:

    I had my stent removed one week after surgery in the doctors office. Was not as bad as I expected. About 8 hrs later I had a very bad pain that was about an 8 on pain scale. I made it so for. Thank God for modern technology.

  15. Fred Kaplan says:

    I would rather die than go through another surgery involving a stent. 4 days after the stent was removed I only dribble out urine no matter how much I drink I feel dehydrated and I feel weak once in awhile kidney pain I’m very afraid of kidney failure I would not recommend a stent for

  16. Al Crepeau says:

    Omg horrific!!! It was like being on a Civil War operating table with no anesthesia/no meds/no whiskey I wasn’t even covered. Iit was almost as bad as the stone. Mild discomfort= excruciating pain.
    also the gel they inject into the tip has zero numbing qualities.
    In today’s day and age there was absolutely zero reason to put patients through this.
    Especially when you can get knocked out at a dentists office, why in hell do they give you nothing to prepare you for this?????
    If they put these damn things in under anesthesia then by God they need to be removed the same way.

  17. Delaine King says:

    I’m having my stent removed tomorrow and I’m dreading it. This is my 3rd surgery for stones and I dreaded having a stent again. This time I kept having such bad spasms that I couldn’t empty my bladder and I could feel the urine back up above the stent where the 6mm stone was. I am 5 days post op and I am still peeing pink and a blood clot once in a while. Another strange and awkward experience has been every time I pee and can’t empty my bladder I have the intense pain when your bladder is full and you have the urgency to pee, I can’t finish peeing and then I have an orgasm. This has been going on for 4days now and is so intense it’s painful. I pray that I don’t end up with urinary incontinence because of these intense spasms. Has anyone else experienced anything like this?!!

    • Myelle Dubosq says:

      Yes I am going through this right now. Bleeding for days. Constant feeling of needing to have an orgasm pain peeing. It’s been horrible my doctor is having me come in today to get the stent out and I’m freaking out

  18. wm cardso says:

    I just had this done.The actual procedure lasts a minute.The feeling is peculiar and hair raising,uncomfortable yes,you feel it snake deeper into you,the discomfort is like yuk ,and this sucks, but when the prostate is passed you will exclaim one AAAAArrHH!,the doctor will say we just passed the prostate,the discomfort returns to the original level,your breathing will become short and fast,just bear with it ,and then when it gets into the bladder you will feel the need to urinate,don’t try to stop it,pressure,just relieve yourself right there,if you clamp down with your kegels you will make it worse,then he stops,fiddles abit to latch onto it,then you feel it go in the other direction,way less discomfort.By the time you feel this sensation,2-5 seconds the dr will say its out,and you pee all over the table,the feeling its still in you lasts 10 minutes after but you feel better.Back pain mostly gone.I prepped by taking 2 vicodin an hour before along with aleve.When its over you-ll be glad you didnt spend money on being anesthetized.It is a harrowing one minute procedure.I still think it sucks that after all you went thru to have the stone taken out,you have to endure this BS a second time.

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