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

  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. 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

  6. 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

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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!

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. tom says:

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

  13. 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!

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