All about ureteral stents

Photo of a ureteral stent

Photo of a ureteral stent

What is a stent?

Ureteral stents are soft, hollow, plastic tubes placed temporarily into the ureter to allow drainage around a stone or or to speed healing after a stone surgery.

When are they needed?

Stents are used for various reasons in patients with kidney stones. They may be placed in patients to help reduce pain from a stone, when infection is present to allow drainage, or when a stone is preventing a kidney from working adequately. Stents are also commonly placed after surgeries for stones, as in ureteroscopy, to allow healing and prevent swelling of the ureter.

Diagram of ureteral stent

Stent in normal position

How is a stent placed?

Stents are placed during surgery by sliding them over a soft “guidewire” which is placed up the ureter, which is the tube draining the kidney. See a video below of a stent being placed.

How is a stent removed?

Stents can be removed in two different ways. Sometimes, a string is left attached to the end of the stent. This string is allowed to come out of the patient’s urethra, the tube where he or she urinates. The string can be used to pull on the stent and remove it. In cases where a string is not left attached, a small camera called a cystoscope is inserted into the patient’s urethra after numbing medication has usually been administered. The cystoscope is then advanced into the bladder and the stent is grasped with an instrument and removed. See our post on stent removal for a video and more details.

How long can a stent stay in?

In general, most stents should only remain in for no longer than 3 or so months. If a stent is left in too long, it can form stones directly on it, making removal difficult.

What are the symptoms of having a stent?

While some patients with stents have minimal discomfort related to them, other patients will report symptoms that can range from being annoying to being severe enough that the stent has to be removed. These symptoms can include:

  • Sensation of needing to urinate
  • Seeing blood in the urine
  • Bladder spasms
  • Burning sensation during urination
  • Pain in the back during urination or when moving
  • Pain in the bladder

Is there anything that can help reduce the discomfort of a stent?

Different medications may be given to help reduce the discomfort of a stent. The most effective appears to be those from the alpha blocker class of medications including tamsulosin (Flomax) and Alfuzosin (Uroxatral). Other types of medications commonly given for stent discomfort, such as oxybutynin (Ditropan) or phenazopyridine (Pyridium), do not appear to be successful at reducing stent related discomfort in placebo controlled studies.  Traditional pain medications are also less successful at reducing stent discomfort.

Hasn’t anyone come up with a better stent?

Research into improving stent designs will hopefully reduce the discomfort associated with them. Innovative stent designs currently being tested include stents embedded with medications to reduce discomfort and stents that dissolve by themselves.

 

1,420 Responses to All about ureteral stents

  1. Kristina says:

    Hello! I hope everyone is feeling better
    I have a question for advice I have had a stent in for 5x weeks, I have a 6mm kidney stone
    Tried to pass it on me own, went for a xray they said the can’t find the stone and it could b hidden?
    Would I have known I passed it? I didn’t see anything
    But I am concerned because I did a urine analise on my self and I had a lot of blood in the urine
    Not sure if this is okay docs aren’t helping much
    Thank you!!

  2. Aronette says:

    I got 2 stents put in a few weeks ago and my left side just hurt i am in pain with the one on my left side is that normal?

    • Kim says:

      I had 2 stents put in 3 months ago and I hurt for about a month, I debated on having them taken out but finally the pain got better. But they also had to stretch my ureter.

  3. Sherra Ali says:

    This post really helped me.
    Also check out these 10 Sure Symptoms of Kidney Stones so you could stay safe.
    http://www.viralflips.com/10-sure-symptoms-confirm-you-got-kidney-stones/

  4. David says:

    I had an operation to split a kidney stone blocking the passage to the left kidney – an emergency in Turkey. Excellent private hospital. But the surgeon said it must be removed in two weeks. Not hearing from Urology, I checked with my doctor who said three months max. Checked back and was told month max.

    In the meantime I’ve had to get the number to contact Urology direct from my doctor. The person promised to contact, didn’t, said I could be looking at one month. After a month I got an appointment – not stated for stent removal, incidentally – for 12 December.

    In the meantime, I have blood in the urine, painful stomach aches (often after exercise) and constant need to pee. Drinking lots of water does help and the doctor confirmed I don’t have another infection. But this is bad. Doctor says Urology Depts are woefully understaffed all over the country.

    If it goes on like this, I may have to fork out for private treatment I can’t really afford. This is a familiar story.

  5. Annie says:

    Had a stent put in left kidney on September 1st…2 weeks later he blasted it to pass…its been 19 days with stent in and got a UTI, high fever and throwing up this weekend. Another surgery in two days to put stent in right kidney. Constant blood in urine, pain, weak, fatigue and nauseousness…I would rather give birth over and over again! It’s the most awful thing ever. I don’t know why the stent has been left in for so long. I’m going to beg to doctor to only leave stent in for a week.

    • Robert Hill says:

      My doctor told me not to lose any sleep over the blood in the urine, it’s just typical of a stent in place. They move around some, and I guess chafe a little on the inside of the ureter.

      I had pain due to the stent until yesterday, 14 days with the stent in. Seems to be gone today.

      The weak, fatigue and nauseousness could be due to kidney failure. You really need to keep in contact with your urologist about that. Those are symptoms of kidney failure. I’m no expert, but that’s what I’ve read, right here on this site.

    • Toni webb says:

      I’m in terrible constent pain with mine and I only got it in the morning. I can’t even take a nap. I’ve not slept since surgery this morning. I hurt all from my pee hole straight up to my belly button. Its like waves of pain steady hurting but the waves hurt worse.

  6. cindy says:

    i had a stent for 7 days and all went good, reseally painful though, but every since its been rremoved about a week later i;ve been having sharpe pain on left side , and a pulling burning sensation at times, is this normal , my stent came out aug 5-2016, and still have sharpe pains, could my kidney be inflammed or what?

  7. Jess says:

    I just had a stent place today, the frequent need to urinate is crazy. Does this settle down at all? I’m going to the toilet about every 2 mins.

    • Robert Hill says:

      Mine’s been in two weeks. The need to pee the first two days was pretty constant. It gradually settled down some, but not completely until yesterday. I was typically going every thirty minutes or so for most of that time. I found that if you sit like a statue, the need passes. It occurs when you’re active.

      It happens because when active, the curl on the stent inside your bladder, does a tap dance on the interior of your bladder, stimulating your bladder and making you need to pee.

      Supposedly there is medicine you can take for “over active bladder”. Ask your doctor about it if it doesn’t settle down soon.

      As of yesterday, I’m finally being able to hold it again. So not going to take the medicine. Next Thursday he’ll pull the stent, try again to get the stone out, then insert another stent for another three weeks. Lovely!

    • Brenda says:

      For me the sensation does not go away with out meds. This is the 5th time I have had a stent for kidney stones and the medicine helps a lot. Ask your doctor. I take Visicare once daily and Uribel every 4 hours

    • Sonja says:

      I try to get as much bed rest as I can. Also, I use heating pads and place it on my bladder, it does wonders!

  8. Lee says:

    I have had a stent inserted 2 days ago , and I still have a catheter, when standing and feel like I need to pee I get a very bad pain in the left side of my back almost unbearable, is this normal

    • Ben says:

      Yes, the pain can be from the Irvine not completely draining and flishjnhbback up to your kidney. Usually flomax helps with this but I’ve never had a catheter with the stent.

  9. JImmy says:

    Had a stint placed yesterday. It had a string attached that appears and disappears. Most of the time, it disappears. Is that normal?

  10. Robert Hill says:

    I wonder about that myself. It’s been nine days and still have to pee a lot more frequently than I’ve ever needed to before. And when I have to pee, it’s URGENT. Like “Get out of my way, got to pee!!!” It’s frustrating as he–. One minute nothing. The next got to pee urgently.

    And, like I read on another site, although the stent does not stop sexual function, it’s definitely not as enjoyable as it always has been. Sometimes have to stop and pee right in the middle of the act. GRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!!

    Two more weeks, than he goes in and tries a second time to get the stone out. Puts in a new stent for another three weeks. This sucks big time!!!!

  11. Jo says:

    Hi
    I had an operation on my 3mm kidney stone yesterday and I’ve got a stent put in, is it normal that I keep wetting myself.
    I had a big wee in hospital but ever since I feel like I need to go but it’s just drips, then I stand up I’m wet again. Is this normal to happen.

  12. Unknown says:

    Is it ok to have sex or masterbates with a stint In

    • Bob says:

      Yes but be gentle on your penis. There do not seem to be official guidelines but I gave it a week or so after JJ stent insertion and was fine although it felt weird. If you are on tamsulosin, you may find little or no semen coming out which is a known side effect of the drug.

  13. Jim B says:

    I had a stent inserted yesterday along with a catheter. the catheter was removed today. I cannot “hold it in.” As soon as i have to urinate, the urine passes. Is this caused by the stent or did the catheter cause my bladder muscles to be weak?

    • NICK VLAHOS says:

      SYMPTOMS PRIMARILY CAUSED BY CATHETERIZATION! DON’T WORRY .. IT WILL START TO SUBSIDE IN A FEW WEEKS BUT WILL CONTINUE UP UNTIL THE STENT(S)/STONE(S) ARE REMOVED. FULL CONTROL ATTAINED AFTER THAT!! JUST GOT MINE REMOVED SEP.8 !! GOD BLESS&GOOD LUCK!!

      11

  14. Robert Hill says:

    Got a stent placed in my right ureter today. Don’t feel a thing. No pain at all. The first couple of pees were quite painful, but I was warned about it before hand. Been in many hours now, and the only ting I’ve noticed is I’m peeing a lot more than normal., which I assume to be my right kidney draining all the stuff that’s been stuck in it for more than a month.

    We”ll see with time I guess.

  15. Jodi says:

    its very normal ive had 4 stent and it does that

  16. Paula says:

    Hi, I had my stent put in on June 23, 2016 due to 13mm septic kidney stone blocking my left kidney. I was quite sick from this & it seem to come on very fast, although I realize a stone this size wouldn’t just become this big in days. I’ve been miserable since then with flank & back pain, pain while peeing, feeling the urge to pee 24/7, blood in urine, going to washroom at least 25 times a day…just miserable. I recently had a CT scan and a different urologist told me they couldn’t see the stone any longer. The urologist did say it’s possible the stone could be hiding behind the stent but he had know way of knowing without seeing my other CT scan as it’s at another hospital. Is it possible to pass a 13mm stone with the stent but not feel any of the wicked pain involved with immediate relief afterwards that’s usually involved when passing a stone?

    • cori says:

      There is no way! Anything over 3mm is actually considered to be too large for a ureter to pass on through. So if you had a 13mm stone, then you may have been on flomax, or another, same class of medication, that can reduce pain, alpha blockers, and reduce the size of the stone considerably! So much so that the stent nay have covered it, and when they removed /remove the stent it can & will slide out!

    • tricia says:

      Hi Paula, I’ve had a Stent in my left kidney for two weeks now and I’m having alot of pain when passing urine. I get alot of blood in the urine and burning and my operation isn’t till the 27 sept to have Stent removed and stone (11 mil ) lazered. So over the pain & sickness😕

      • Kristi says:

        Are you drinking a lot of water? Like 12-17 cups a day? When I don’t drink enough water, it hurts to urinate. Not the case at all when I drink a lot of water. Also, flomax helps a lot.

      • Wendy Chatman says:

        Tricia, I’m in the exact same boat you are in! Just had my surgery and this pain is the worst I’ve ever felt! Stent will be removed in three weeks! I’m supposed to be discharged from the hospital today but I don’t know what pain meds I will be sent home with, but God knows it better be strong! This pain is incredible!!

    • Dee says:

      My stone was 15mm (with sepsis too) and I don’t believe that could hide behind the stent which is very thin. A simple x-ray should show them the stone. They tried shock wave therapy on me but it didn’t work. Doctor ended up going IN my kidney and lasering it; took him 2 hours. While I didn’t have blood in urine (thankfully), the stent drove me crazy with the constant urge to pee…only ‘relief’ I felt was sitting on the toilet. He removed the stent (yay) 4 days after the stone lasering. Now, 2.5 weeks later I have a kinda yeast infection feeling, but a tiny little blood at the tip of my urethra, and some pain on the other side. Did ultrasound, but no results call yet 3 days later. But you should feel immediate relief once he/she takes the stent out. Good luck

  17. Sam says:

    It’s been 4 days the stent is placed in the ureter. The blood still coming out. Initially, I had burning feeling while passing urine out, but now it’s gone after taking medication.
    I also have the same question on blood loss as well.

    • cori says:

      Blood is normal part of a stent, the stent is actually removing infection (which may have blood in it) OR one of the “pig tail ends” may be irritating either kidney or bladder enough so that either one could becoming chaffed or chapped kinda and getting big or little “blood sores”. Every time I have a stent I urinate blood, sometimes starting to urinate blood just after stent is placed in.
      Also I have had 6 stents, and 29 kidney stones in Las 2 years, so I kinda got it down pat! I just been trying to figure out how i have 2 livers, and if these are the cause(s) for my “rock garden” that I continue to grow!

  18. Sam says:

    Hi,

    My stone is in ureter. After uteroscopy last week. Dr. could not reach to the stone as the stone stuck within cells. So he placed the stent. Just wondering how long stent will take to make the enough space so that it can come out next time

  19. kate says:

    Hi Chris I have had my stent for4 weeks and had what looked like large amounts of blood for 2 weeks. I have just visited my gp and had urine tests done and there was blood in it that was not seen by the naked eye.
    Hope this helps you.
    Kate

  20. Alan S says:

    I had a stent place today after removal of distal ureter stone. I was instructed to remove it in 5 days. Can I get into a pool or hot tub while wearing the stent or does that increase the risk of UTI? I’m a male patient.

  21. Chris says:

    Hello, I got my stent 6 days ago and then left for a business trip to Germany, so I can not contact my Doctor.
    My question is on blood loss… There is a constant presence of blood in my urine. I’m interested to know how to guage when Ineed to be concerned with my body’s upkeep with making blood. When is too much blood “too much”? My stent comes out in 10 days, I was told to expect blood in my urine untill then.
    Is this normal?

    • Stewart says:

      Hi,
      I,ve just come out of hospital with stent in left side.and am peeing blood constantly. My query is ,I am due to fly out of country in10 days time. Is it ok to fly?

      • Kristi says:

        Everything I’ve read says it’s ok to fly. Check with your doctor to be Sure. First, Are you taking flomax and ibuprofen to keep inflammation down? I had a stent placed on sept 15. Had blood in urine and was very painful/uncomfortable for 2 days. Now the amount of blood has subsided and the pain has moved from a 7 to a 2. I noticed less pain when I started up the flomax again. Try it. And my dr said to keep up with the ibuprofen for 4 days (2-400mg 3 times a day)

        • Kristi says:

          Also, drink a lot of water, about 17 cups a day if you can. I have less pain during urination when I keep up my water drinking. If I don’t drink enough, it stings when urinating.

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