How is a ureteral stent placed?

Photograph of a ureteral stentIf you ever wondered how ureteral stents are placed, we’ll explain the process to you here step by step. Ureteral stents are typically used in two situations: 1) When a stone is causing blockage of the ureter and drainage needs to be established.  2) After a surgery to improve healing of the ureter or kidney.

Diagram of a ureteral stent in position.


How to place a ureteral stent in 8 steps (with video below):

1. Use a cystoscope to locate the ureteral orifice where urine drains into the bladder. (A cystoscope is a camera that can be placed into the bladder).
2. Pass a soft flexible wire called a “guidewire” into the ureteral orifice.
3. Use x-ray imaging to monitor the guidewire as it is advanced up the ureter.
4. If there is a blocking stone, contrast fluid can be injected using a soft hollow temporary stent. The contrast fluid will outline the ureter to improve guidance. The fluid can also push the stone back up the ureter in some cases.
5. Advance the guidewire all the way into the kidney
6. Thread a ureteral stent over the guidewire and push it up into the kidney using a “pusher”.
7. Remove the guidewire once the ureteral stent is in the correct position. The stent has a natural curl at both ends which will keep it in place. Once the guidewire is removed, the curls can develop.
8. Confirm correct placement of the stent using x-rays and by visualizing the stent in the bladder.

(Occasionally, stents are also placed in the opposite direction, from the kidney down to the bladder. This is done when access is obtained into the kidney during a percutaneous nephrolithotripsy (PCNL) procedure or when it is not possible to place a stent from below.)

Video of ureteral stent placement in a patient with an obstructing left kidney stone in the ureter.


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 website.
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39 Responses to How is a ureteral stent placed?

  1. Doris says:

    has reduced kidney function. Dr. has inserted stents into his kidneys but has to be replaced every 4 months. He is told there is a procedure that they can do so the stents can be done through the back. Does anyone know what that procedure is called?

  2. vadivel says:

    I have recently stone surgery and some stones are still some stones are pending. Doctor kept stenting. He told to smash those pending stones by machines.

    Is it fine?

  3. E Rose says:

    Thanks for the informative video, I had this done successfully a few days ago, the need to urinate feeling passed after 6 -8 hours. Mine remains in for 3 weeks but I was in very bad shape when I was operated on. My Urologist was amazing!

  4. Had surgery aug 11 unsuccessful 2nd attempt on 9/21 I have faith

  5. Rosalind Rawlings says:

    Just had a stent fitted and awaiting laser treatment in 2 to 4 weeks. As this is the first
    day I am not surprised to be passing so much blood. Hopefully, that will subside. I
    have the constant feeling of needing to pee. It feels like pressure on my groin all the
    time. Anyone else suffering from this? Would like to hear from you.

    • DebW. says:

      I feel the pressure on my groin as well. I also feel pain along the entire length of the stent when I move. I didn’t realize that the stent was in the entire length of the ureter. I’m mentally more at ease now that I know what I’m feeling.

  6. Buffy says:

    I have had kidney stones for 6 months and in two days I will be having surgery number 5!!!!! The first time my Urologist tryed the stent procedure but when I woke up from surgery I was told I still had the stone and that it was extremely impacted into my bladder. I since then have had 2 unsuccessful Lithotripsy. Then a surgery were they put a tube in my back that goes about 6 inches into my kidney and I have a urine bag hanging from my hip. It sucks for a lack of better words!!!! I have had that for 2 months!!!! So in 2 days they are going to try the first surgery again. It has been a very long 6 months of hell and severe pain. I will take any and all prayers!!!!

  7. Clayton Perry says:

    I had a stent place last week due to 2 stones blocking the passage
    Yes it is a feeling that stays with you and having a not so good feeling
    Makes you want to pee more often and pain in the area where stint is
    While using the bathroom. Lost one kidney to cancer 7 years ago so this is a life or
    Death ordeal for me. Stint to stay in for 13 days and as I understand a string
    Is tied to it and it will be pulled out in the doctors office. Don’t
    Know what to expect there

  8. Amie says:

    Hi all! On December 17th I got a kidney stone and on the 20th they put in a stent to help relieve the excruciating pain until I was able to have a lithotripsy, which I received a week ago. I have had nonstop nausea and stomach pain since my stent placement. I am so tired of feeling sick all the time! It’s exhausting! Did anyone else get these awful stomach issues?

    This week I have started getting those back spasms that are indicative of a kidney stone even though I still have a stent. I was told that I shouldn’t get thirst types of pain. I go in on jan. 25th for my follow up X-ray, but I am wondering if this is common?


  9. benyamin says:

    my father is 83,suffering from demnetia and recently he suffering repeated urinary tract infection ,followed by urinary blockage.urologist decided to do surgery by inseting stant in the ureter,please let me to know your openian.
    meanwhile he benian prostate cancer, and undergone radiotherapy treatment.

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