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

  1. ronald miller says:

    i was put to sleep for my stent removal. i didn’t feel not one bit of pain. i slept for nearly 2 days aftwards. when a awoke i my appitie was larger than usual. on ascale of 0-10 my pain was 0. once i got home to nearly a week later. when i move certain ways i’m experiencing a feeling as if something ripping or splitting in my stomach area. would i have the procedure again yes. if i needed it without hesitation.

  2. Michele says:

    Just had stent fitted after being taken ill last friday night (9th june 2017) with the most severe pain i’ve ever experienced.
    I have a stone up by my kidney which will be lasered in about 6 weeks time and stent will be removed at same time under general anaesthetic.
    I also had severe kidney infection and blood infection.
    Since coming home, i am pretty much pain free except when i urinate when i get a horrible pain in my kidney that makes me come out in a cold sweat. I dread going.
    Am I being a whimp? Will this happen all the time the stent is in and any tips for coping?
    I’m worried about going back to work.

    Also any tips after stent removal?

    Thanks

    • Hi…I’ve had two stents installed, one for a week before I had my stone lasered and another directly after the lasering to aid with recovery. I’m having mine removed in two days time…and can’t wait. In terms of pain and discomfort…it is uncomfortable, but I’ve found that if I don’t move about a lot (which causes more blood in the urine) and I use a reclining chair it very bearable. I have the same pain when passing water, but have learnt to go often rather than wait until I need to…and not to push ( as this forces urine up the stent and causes huge pain). I’ve also found that leaning forward helps to prevent having to strain and cause pain. Hope this helps…

  3. Amber says:

    I had my stent removed 4 weeks ago after having my 7th Lithotripsy along with 7 stents and everytime they’ve(the stents) gotten worse. Lithotripsy the last 2 were within 2 weeks of eachother, after being on Dilaudid that entire time and having the stent in for 6 weeks it was removed. Fast forward to 4 weeks later present time, I’m having ALOT of mainline a stone. I’ve had little twinges of pain but tonight it’s bad. My ureter was really damaged from all the trauma and now im.worried. has this or anyone heard of pain 4 weeks after?

  4. Brian says:

    I’m 36 and this was the first stone I’ve ever had and the worst pain I’ve ever felt. I had my surgery on June 7th to bust up 8mm stone and had the stent with string hanging out. Had to leave stent in for 7 days and didn’t get much sleep. Being a male your penis changes sizes constantly and with a string hanging out if can get very uncomfortable especially if you wake up with an erection which seem to be happening more than normal. I think it was the flomax the Dr. prescribed. The stent mostly gave me pain at the end of urination, my kidney and bladder would cramp up. This gets old quick since you have to pee every 20 minutes! On day 6 I finally go used to it and got some sleep. The day I was to have the stent removed my anxiety level was through the roof. I had no idea what to expect and I expected the worse. I took 7.5 mg Norco one hour before. Nurse called me back said drop your pants just to your ankles, grabbed the string, I looked up toward God took a deep breath and it was over in about 3 seconds. Not really a pain more of a weird sensation. It’s the biggest relief to get it out. Walking out I laughed at myself for getting so worked up over having it removed. I felt great for about an hour then came the pain again(pain level 6). It felt like the stone pain all over again. It stopped about and hour later. Then around 6 that night it came back again (pain level 9). It lasted about hour. I finally slept all the way through the night. I’m now writing this on the day after my stent removal. I’ve had pain 2 different times today (pain level 6). Not sure if it’s coincidence or not but it always seems to be 30 minutes after I eat. Has anyone else had this experience? I’m to the point I’m scared to eat anything. I tried to look up best foods to eat but the internet is all over the place on what is high and low oxalate. This whole experience is very traumatic. I really feel bad for all the people who have dealt with stones for years. I thank you for sharing your experience, it does help to know your not alone! I pray for better procedures and more studies on what you can do to stop this thing from forming in the first place. Good luck everyone, try to stay positive!

  5. Darren says:

    I have a stent in at the moment hoping it will be getting removed on Wednesday.
    The Dr wanted to pull it out while I am awake, Not a chance I am having a general to get it removed.why should be suffer. After all that what the private insurance is for.

  6. Sue says:

    I had my stent removed yesterday, I was nervous based on others reviews. I took 2 Percocet one hour prior to the appointment. The nurse numbed the area and left it for about 10 minutes. The doctor came in and went over the procedure with me. I did not have a string so they go through the urethra with a small camera with clasp to grab the stent. The doctor clamped the stent and then started to remove, no pain up to this point. She told me when I would feel pain. It was torwards to end of the removal. It was brief and uncomfortable. On a scale of 1-10 it hurt a 5. After the procedure she gave me a shot of toradol in my ass. That may have hurt more than the removal of the stent. They did not require me to pee after procedure and I didn’t until 3 hours later. No burning at all. I was given antibiotics and a pill incase it burned. I’m very glad the stent is out. Easy procedure just don’t tense up, stay relaxed and take meds before you go. Good luck.

    • Jeanine says:

      Thank you for sharing. Mines coming out in a couple of days and I’m terrified!!This whole process has been so painful and I’m ready for it to be over!

  7. Noor Alam says:

    I had a cystoscopy for my Dj stent removal last month, even it was done on local anesthesia still the pain was unbearable….

  8. z.f says:

    if u dont mind lying down (a bit uncomfortable) after the operation til the next morning, then i suggest asking the doc to put a catheter attached to the stent…the next morning a nurse will just come and pull both out at the same time…just hold ur breath for 3 secs tops and feel a sting and it’s out….(and if u have never pissed via a catheter..it’s quite strangely a good feeling lol)

    • Panda says:

      I have my 2nd stent in currently, removal is tomorrow. I can’t wait, the dr were going to apply a string so, I could pull it out myself. They decided against that. I’m only 4’5″ tall and I’m not a fan of stents. The burning sensation I feel with each bathroom break is awful. I will not ever agree to another stent. The
      discomfort I feel isn’t worth it. I have to sit a certain way, lay in a certain position as I feel the stent if I don’t.In the 90’s drs would just blast the stone & let it pass, I feel this method is less painful. Passing the stone is painful but, the discomfort doesn’t last for days on end. I’ve been on antibiotics since stent was placed.

      Your very lucky you had little to no pain while the stent was in place. No one enjoys stents or stones.

      • Panda says:

        I had my stent removed on 6/6/17 it was in for 5 days. My stent was removed using the cystoscopy method & lodiciane. I had mild kidney pain through the day/night. On 6/7 I’m feeling the “pinching”you feel once the stent is being removed. I’ve tried taking NSAID to help that’s not working. This pain is shooting & causing my entire “private areas” to hurt once the “pinching” feeling starts. Has anyone else experienced this? If so when should I worry or will it stop? The kidney pain is barley there, both pains are like a Fathom pains … there’s no way to know when it’s going to start. The pinching type pain that is shooting down, has caused me to stop what I’m doing & go find a sitting/laying position that doesn’t hurt. My groin area starts to hurt if the pinching feeling doesn’t go away quickly. I didn’t have entercourse ,while the stent was in or since it was removed. I certainly hope this eases up by Wednesday 6/8! Please, share stories or advice on if this is something I should be concerned with.

        • Heather says:

          I have mine removed tomorrow and I am terrified. I had a string last time, this time no string. And Everytime I pee my left side (side with stent) cramps and hurts so very bad. Dr only gave me 14 pain pills after surgery and I came home with stent and catheter the Cath is out but the stent will be removed in the Dr office tomorrow June 9th since I’m out of pain meds, any suggestions?

  9. Kathy Henson says:

    When stent was removed did you bleed any the first day?

  10. Al says:

    Hi brothers and sisters

    Just to update you. since my last message I sent you above 3 days ago. during these 3 days with my stent in, it was not that bad. I wasdrinking 4 liters a day of water. It helped alot. My only problem was that I had hemorroids 3 days before surgery and that was uncomfortable especially when I need to go to pee. Urinating is the major discomfort I had.

    But I learned a trick. When you urinate do not stand VERTICAL, try to lean towards the wall forward by 40-50 degrees while keeping a straight postutre.

    It might have kept the extrimity in the bladder free and not touching against your bladder membrane.

    Tomorrow is my day to remove the stent. I hope to update you tomorrow.

    before I go. Anybody has a fast remedy for hemorroids, because all the gels that are over the counter are messy and sometimes make things worse.

    Thanks

    Al

  11. Vetrice Desue says:

    I’m scared I havta go n have my stents pulled out 6 day after surgery is really that bad

  12. Al says:

    I have had my stent put in 2 days ago after unexpected severe pain in my right kidney while I was at work.

    Anyway, after 8 hours of severe pain and vomiting, the 5 mm stone was dicovered lodged near the bladder. my surgey was performed the next day at 10 am. I was awake after an hour and half.

    the next day they removed the tube from my urethra and sent home. Today is my second day, I have some kind of pain and discomfort when I urinate becaue the Stent irritates the bladder at the end of urination.

    I am scheduled to remove my stent after 5 days. Hopefully everything returns to normal.

    My question is how long it takes after removing the stent to go back to normal?

    I wish you ALL the best of luck and speedy recovery…..

    Al

  13. Graham says:

    Was very worried about having stent removed after 2 weeks but was made to feel comfortable by the staff.from me laying down on the bed to getting up again was 7 minutes little bit of discomfort but no pain.I am now back to normal after having kidney infection and 10 mm stone blasted.

  14. Martin says:

    Thank you for the site and allow everyone to chip in with their experience.

    Today, I had the stent removed this afternoon at Dr. office (surgery was last Thursday). A nurse introduced an urethra catheter right after the surgery which pulled the stent’s strings into the bladder accidentally. Either way, today I had both the catheter and stent removed through cystoscopy at the office.

    Anxiety level: 100/10 — I was a nerve wreck…
    Sedation: only gel…
    Pain Level: “0” – yes, zero ! — I did not notice when he started pulling, nor when he finished (10 sec later I guess).
    Uncomfor level: 2/10 — when instrument passed through the prostate. I guess, that having the catheter for 4 days helped not only to openly clear out urine after surgery but also open up the urethra for the cystoscopy instrument which is much smaller in size.

    Every case is different, but I do strongly recommend you to request for a catheter insert right after surgery (while in sedation) if the doctor is ok with it. I also took 2 “Hydrocone” (prescribe by Dr for pain relief, and “Rapaflo” 1 day in advance to help reduce both prostate inflammation and ease the urine flow after the stent and catheter were removed.

    Good luck to everyone.

  15. Boyd says:

    I just removed my stint that I had in for 5 days. I expected it to be far worse. My pain killer prescription said to take 1-2 pills every 4 hours. So I had taken just 1 at a time for the first 5 days. On the fifth morning I got up and took two pills and drank a quart of water. 45 minutes later I got in the shower. After my back was relaxed from the hot water I began to urinate and started pulling the string out while urinating. With a light consistent movement it slide out easily. It was a piece of cake. No pain at all. I had dreaded it for nothing. I think the combination of relaxation, lubrication, and pain killers worked perfect. Hope this helps others.

  16. Vishal says:

    had a 1cm stone removed via lithoscopy and thereafter a stent insertion which remained in place for 3 weeks. the stone pains were 10/10, the stent pains and associated discomfort were 5/10 while the stent removal procedure were just 1/10. however during the duration of the stent in my ureter I was always low on energy, had frequent loose motions and my physical activity levels were down 90%. today is my second day after the stent has been removed and my tummy has gone berserk again and the very low energy levels continue. the doc says give it atleast a week. my only suggestion to all people having stents is to drink lots of water 3 to 4 litres atleast , the subsequent peeing will reduce discomfort to a great extent.

    • Charlie says:

      jacksdaughter3@gmail.com

      I had my stent removed today after 5 1/2 weeks. I was fine at first but a while after getting home from hospital I started experiencing severe Pain. It lasted at least an hour and since then has been recurring and lasting at least 20 minutes. I was not told there could be pain after and was not given any pain killers. The pain is making me nauseous as well. It is close to being as bad as when I had the kidney stone. Not happy about this at all. How long will it continue?

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