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

  1. Larry C says:

    I had my stent removed 2 days ago and my experience was as follows:
    The nurse applied numbing gel inside the penis (in preparation of the cystoscopy).
    About 10 minutes later the Dr. came in and began the procedure (For me the worst part was the insertion). Once he found the stent, the Dr. grabbed it and pulled it out pretty quickly. The sensation for me was more of a stinging or burning. I would describe it as VERY uncomfortable as opposed to being painful. The actual procedure was very quick (1-2 minutes max). For obvious reasons, I was very nervous about going through the procedure, however it turned out not as bad as I thought. Afterwards, urinating the remainder of the day (after the procedure) will sting/burn as well. However the following day, I had no effects at all and was back to normal. I hope this helps anyone who is about to have a stent removed.

  2. Ian Mart says:

    Had my stent out yesterday, after the procedure was some blood also stung when I went to urinate. But the following day everating back to normal.

  3. Jackie says:

    To be straight up, I was 18 when I was hospitalized for stones. It took me two weeks to finally decide to go to the hospital and be treated. I had to have two surgeries to remove the stones because my ureters are abnormally narrow. When I had my stents taken out, my god, it was easily the worst pain I have ever gone through. I had extreme nausea after the removal, and it hurt more to pee without the stent than with it in. I don’t mean to scare you, but if I was able to pass a stone without going to the hospital for two weeks and deal with that pain but not even bear to do a stent removal, that should be a big hint on how badly it hurts.

  4. Mary Lynn says:

    Im getting my stent out in about 10 hours. A friend is going to pull the string because i just cant do it. Needless to say i am loiking firward to getting the stent out but the unknown of the pain i am not looking firward to. Wish me luck

  5. Bob D. says:

    I had stent removed a week ago and now have severe incontinence. Does anyone else have the problem. I am male. I don’t have a problem sitting but if I stand or walk I leak. 3 to 4 pads a day. Never had that problem before.

  6. Alona says:

    I just had my stent removed today. There was a slight amount of pressure in the beginning. I am a female. There was no pain whatsoever during or after. My pain level was about a one on a scale from 1 to 10. Don’t be nervous!

  7. Linda says:

    Just had my stent removed about an hour or so ago. So I thought I’d give my experience, in case it helps anyone else here.

    About an hour before the procedure (done in the doctor’s office), I took 4 Ibuprofen.

    She hadn’t left a string in there on mine. She, initially, said it was because she didn’t want me removing it myself. I kept telling her that there was no reason why I’d be trying to remove it. I’m not sure if she was joking or not. But she did finally say that she didn’t want it coming out accidentally – that she really needed it to stay in the full time.

    They gave me a Rocephin shot beforehand. And then did Lidocaine in the genital area. They used a speculum to get the area where she could see it.

    The actual removal part didn’t take long – a few seconds. But getting to it took about a minute or so. A lot of that may have been because I was so tense and couldn’t let her see the area sufficiently.

    On a scale of 1 – 10, I’d give it about a 6 or so when the stent came out. There were bladder spasms that weren’t fun. So she immediately ordered a shot of Toradol. That helped some.

    I got to see the stent afterwards – it was about 8 – 12 inches long and had little “pigtail” curls on both ends to hold it in the urinary tract.

    After I left there, I went back home and took a Pyridium and an Oxybutinin pill to see if that would help with the spasms.

    My suggestions: Definitely take some Ibuprofen beforehand. Do get an antibiotic shot, since there could be infection after having a stent in for any length of time. See if they can give you a Toradol (or other pain med) shot BEFORE they do it. I’m wondering if that might have helped any. Drink lots of water afterwards – even though peeing hurts some. I’m told that flushing out the kidneys and bladder will start to heal the damage that the stent does in there.

    And know that I’m sending you a hug. That’s what I wanted more than anything after it was all over. And no one realized it. So I want to offer one to you right now – even a cyber one. I know it’s not a fun experience. So I want you to know that I care about you and would hug you if I were there.

    Will have to update later on what happens in the coming days. I’m really, really hoping that the urinary urgency I’ve been feeling (both before the stone removal and while the stent was in there) will go away. I’ve been dealing with that for over a month now, and I really cannot handle much more of that feeling. :(

    Hugs – Linda

    • Ellen says:

      Thank you so very much for this – very helpful.

    • Chris says:

      Hi Linda, thanks for the hug, I’ll think I’ll need it. My name is Chris, yes male, and I’ll have had my stent in place for three weeks when I go to get it removed by cystoscopy office procedure. I’ve had two previous stents inserted and removed under GA. All together, I’ve had a stent since July 2nd, 2017. So this time I will probably be awake and I am quite nervous about it being removed while I’m awake. I hope you are feeling better and I also look forward to not having the constant urge of having to go and the constant discomfort of it tugging inside my bladder. It feels like it pulls on the entire urinary tract at times Thank you so much for the hug and concern. If I was there for you, I would’ve given you a hug. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes…

    • Leigh-Ann says:

      Hi Linda. Thank you for your detailed post. I have elected to have my stent removed tomorrow. It will be done under general anaesthetic thankfully but i am still very nervous for afterwards because I’m 31 weeks pregnant and we don’t know if i have passed a stone yet or if there are any still in my kidney but I’m opting to take the chance because i can’t bare the pricking pain in my bladder any more with the baby pushing down on it. I was wondering how you are feeling since yours was pulled out? Do u feel like a new human being or are there still any after effects? Thank you in advance for the hug. Im sure i will need it tomorrow ☺

    • Arelia says:

      Thank you for sharing your experience. It helped a lit. Im having mibe removed tomorrow
      And im really anxious. I’m planning on taking ibuprofen or percocet prior the the procedure..

  8. honda says:

    Hello fellow kidnoleans! I’m also having my stent removed after one hectic ordeal. Pain, urinary tract infection and more pain. I cannot wait to remove this thing from my body. I asked the doc to move my appointment closer…i don’t care about pain at this stage…i want it out!!!!!!pain

  9. Teresa says:

    I had a 2.5 cm stone that required 2 lithotripsy treatments and a stent placed on August 15. I. have been on pain meds and oxybutynin since. I have found the oxybutynin to be helpful as it is an antisposmodic. I am having the stent removed tomorrow and am quite anxious about it but I can’t wait to get rid of it. It has been a very uncomfortable month! Almost all activity had to be stopped due to pain and discomfort. My plan is to have my son drive me and take 2 pain pills, oxybutynin and an Aleve an hour prior to the appointment. I hope it helps!

    • Teresa says:

      Update! The stent was removed yesterday! I took the pain pills, Aleve and oxybutynin prior to the appointment and although there was some discomfort it was minimal! I feel like a new person this morning!

  10. Mayra avina says:

    Yesterday morning they remove my stent today is 2nd day I’m steel in a lot off pain it doesn’t hurt to pee but my back Kedneys on the side it hurts alot

  11. Mayra avina says:

    This was my first experience of having something inside off me, the famous stent its hurts a lot before and after drinking lots water helps a lot.

  12. Ed Cespedes says:

    I just had my stent pulled out at the Dr’s office by string. It really didn’t hurt at all. However, I am having severe pain 6hrs after removal almost as bad as kidney stone pain 8-9 of 10. I am taking 5/325 percocet and the pain is barely manageable.

    How long should I expect the pain to last?

  13. Anonymous says:

    Just pulled mine out today by myself. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be, just really scary. It has been 6 days from my surgery. Yes after the surgery the pain from urination is bad but it will go away in 2-4 days, can’t remember exactly when it stopped for me. To me the pain of urination wasn’t as bad as always feeling like I have to urinate all the time, felt almost like it was every 15 to 30 minutes even though nothing came out. Felt like I was a prisoner in my own house, afraid to leave because I though I may pee myself. For actually pulling out the stent, I did it while in the shower, standing up and pulled down. I forgot how long the stent actually was, the string probably doubles the length of the stent. I had to build my courage by pulling on it slightly to see if there was any pain. There was no pain but as soon as I pulled (and mind you I didn’t pull hard at all, which is why I probably felt like I had to pee all the time) I felt a burning sensation like I had to urinate very badly. After trying a few times I realized I didn’t need to urinate at all, the feeling just came from pulling the string. I didn’t feel anything inside my body as I was pulling it out, I only felt the burning sensation of wanting to urinate. Its probably my body’s way of saying there is something in my penis and it wants it out. The burning sensation of wanting to urinate did not grow in pain, just stayed the same until it came all the way out. Again, wasn’t painful just felt like I may urinate on my hands while pulling it out. Its probably been 45 minutes since I pulled it out and there is no pain, just a slight feeling of wanting to use the bathroom.

    I hope this helps people know what to expect, it is very scary and the nurse on the phone wasn’t very helpful, I had to pull information from her but she made no mention of what to expect or what I may feel when doing it.

  14. Prasant says:

    Dear Friends,
    I had my ureteroscopy surgery done for my 9 mm ureter stone with spinal cord anaesthesia, the surgery was not painful as my lower part was fully numb. The doctor inserted a urinary catheter at the time of surgery to pass the urine for 2 days and the catheter removed after 2 days. After the catheter removed, the first 3 urine was so burning but bearable. Now the doctor told that he will remove my DJ stent
    remove after 2 weeks. The stent has no string and the doctor will use a cystoscope to remove it. He said no anaesthesia will be used, only a jelly will be used on the penis to insert the cystoscope.
    Please help me to know, will it be so painful??

    Thanks

    • Rohan says:

      I just had my stent removed a couple hours back by cystoscopy. There was ZERO pain involved. No problem at all. What the doctor said is that some people are fearful and due to this they tighten their pelvis and abdominal muscles. This may result in pain. So just relax and dont worry.

  15. Alex says:

    For all those scarred to pull out stent , I just took mine out ! Wasn’t painful more so burning and alot of pressure.
    Pre- medicate 30min to an hour before.
    I pulled my stent inside my bathtub with warm water. First pull on the outside strings firmly, cough while pulling the rest of the string out this will help pain tremendously.
    After-math
    Cramps in stomach and private area.

  16. Dheeraj says:

    I got my stent removed today. It I’m not able to go to urinwe it’s burning a lot like so what should I do pls reply

  17. Lalit says:

    I’m having stent removed after 3 week of stone surgery with local anesthesia. I am sharing my experience of pain during complete process of stent removal because like others I am also tense regarding the pain.friends my suggestion is you must go with local anesthesia only. When local anesthesia is injected into panis you will feel little pain which can be tolerated. And after that cystoscope is inserted through panis cause little bit uncomfortable pain only for 30 second and it’s over. Now you can go your home by self driving or my advice is have a rest of 2 hrs in hospital and after doctor advice go to home and take your medicines as per doctor advice.

  18. Julian Gonzales says:

    Hey guys, I’m having my stent taken out this friday amd im a little nervpus. I hear it can be painful . i hope its not to bad especially because i have very small uterers.

  19. Ethel Taylor says:

    My husband just had his stent removed on yesterday. Blood is still coming out when he urinates! Is this normal and if so, how long will it last?

  20. Kerry says:

    I had a stent put in after having blockages removed from both sides and the stones in left kidney pulverized ( why didn’t he do the right kidney too I have no clue). I can’t remember the name of the procedure but it was done vaginally with sound I believe. The discomfort of removal was about a 4 on the pain scale. But then the real pain started almost immediately as I started passing stones like a gravel truck. The bottom of the toilet bowl was covered in sand. Seems to me the stent kept the debris in the kidney.

  21. Lea Nava says:

    Just had the second stent removed today and my advice of your going to have it done in Dr. Office take pain meds first , I had slight compilation with mine and almost had to go to surgery to remove it , in rare cases the bladder may sick the stent up this may help every one but I put pressure with both hands and the lil burger decided to show just enough to get it out and because of this I’m having severe pain which could last up to 2 weeks ugh worse than having it in , that’s why I suggested taking pain meds first . Would I do it again only of last resort. Good luck and God bless ?

  22. Adam says:

    I just got mine removed today and I can say it’s not as bad as I imagined it was going to be. I’ve had my Stent in for 3 weeks and I was in pain everyday so I was happy to have the dang thing out. Step by step it went like this, first they put some numbing gel inside the penis which stung a little bit but wasn’t too bad. The trick here is to give it a good 5 mins or so before they try to put the scope in so it has time to work. When he inserted the scope I couldn’t even tell he went in yet. He stopped at the prostate and explained that that’s where I may feel the discomfort. He told me to wiggle my toes (probably to try to not think about it) and he went in. Not gonna lie, that parts no fun, kinda feels like getting stung by bees on the inside but it only lasts a few seconds. Once they’re in you may feel a little pinch here and there but it’s tolerable. After he got ahold of the Stent he told me he was about to take it out and he pulled it pretty quick. It did hurt for a few seconds again here but as soon as it came out it was instant relief. It has now been about 8 or 9 hrs since the removal and I can tell a Hell of a difference since it’s been pulled out. I did experience a couple of painful urination (maybe around the first 3 or so) but after that it was no big deal. I just wanted to give those out there that are worried and looking this up a bit more of a heads up on what to expect. Like I said, it’s not pleasant by no means but it’s definitely tolerable and not anything as bad as I’m sure most expect. Good luck to everyone who’s getting ready to have it done!

    • Larry says:

      Thank you for sharing your detailed experience Adam. I get my stint out next week and am having a lot of anxiety about the procedure. I hope my experience is as smooth as yours.

      • Adam says:

        I know its a bit late but hopefully it all went well. I’ve had to have three more stents placed since my original post so it’s definitely been a long ride but seems like this will finally be the last one. Another note for anyone who reads this, if you have to get another stent and you had a lot of discomfort the first time around, ask for a Polaris stent to be put in instead of the regular stent. It made a hugggeeee difference in the whole process, I’d honestly say it reduced stent pain by about 70-80% it was much more tolerable and easy to deal with. As far as the removal part, I’m not sure if it was the stent or the fact that I’m just getting used to it by now but it really went smoothly without really any pain whatsoever. Just remember that when the doc says relax then do your best to do that. It does make a big difference because the more you tighten up the worse it is. The doc was in and out in no more than 20 seconds and I couldn’t believe how easily it went. Anyways, like I said before, I hope your procedure went well and didn’t cause too much discomfort. Take care

  23. Carlos Gonzalez says:

    Good afternoon fellow kidney stone carriers. I am having a stent removal procedure done this week at the doctors clinic. I have gone through so much with this 8mm kidney stone enlarged in my left upper part of my kidney. This is the last step and I don’t know if I can take anything else inserted into my urethra. What should I be expecting at the doctors office?

    • Mayra avina says:

      Today in the morning my stent was remove now it’s like the beginning it’s hurts a lot on my side it feels like is bloated it’s verry painful
      Painfully

  24. Kenny Teo says:

    The pain for the stent removal for me is rated 7/10 , the most painful is to removal of urine tube to the urine bag. Now i drink 3 litres of water a day to keep fit.

  25. I’m having my stent out Friday. As I try to urinate the pain is dang unreal. I have to lay down for an hr. Sitting is not going to happen. My question is once it’s removed, string, Dr’s office, will I pee and pee? I put on 4lbs in a few days!

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