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.Β  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.


1,451 Responses to All about ureteral stents

  1. Diana S Kirk says:

    I had an emergency stent placed during the 4th of July weekend, not because of kidney stones but from scare tissue from a 21 year old Artificial artery implant into both my legs this scare tissue from the implant was collapsing my ureter and backing up urine into my left kidney to the point my healthy kidney nearly exploded. They placed stent in to keep my ureter open and once I got rid of all the infection, took four different antibiotics, I’ve felt no pain from stent. The urgency to urinate has subsided considerably and now it’s October and so far everything is okay. Since I do not want them to do surgery and bother my 21 year old artificial artery implant which supplies blood to both my lovely legs, I’ve chosen to try to maintain this stEnt as long as possible this first one we’re shooting for eight months to a year. I’ll gladly go back once a year and have the stent replaced as long as I have no more problems than I’ve had with the first one it’s been a godsend. I’ve never had kidney stones nor is there any kidney disease or bladder disease found in My bladder or either one of my kidneys. So wish me luck.

  2. Nikki says:

    These stents are worse than the kidney stones. I got them yesterday. /’somebody tell me they get less painful!!! :(

    • Nicole says:

      Yes it gets better. I had mine put in on Monday and the first 36 hours (for me) were terrible with the burning, abdominal cramps, back pain and bladder spasms. After that, the burning went away as did the abdominal cramps. Today (Friday) was the first day I haven’t needed pain medication however the stent is still annoying but tolerable. Can’t wait to have it removed in 3 days!!

  3. Danny Gleeson says:

    Hi folks. I’ve had a sent put in(but not because of stones) for nearly 4weeks also had a catheter which was removed yesterday. Since then been getting a pain in my kidney similar to cramp in my kidney every time I pee. Should I be worried?

  4. Nancy Fordham says:

    The end of my string is no longer there can I try to get it back out so they can immediately take it out ? I have to wait another week for doctor to do the scope and grasp it .it’s very uncomfortable and I have appt tomorrow.the string had come back out but not what happened?

  5. Holly says:

    Thank you, reading all these posts I am going to try some Flomax to ease the pain, nothing else seems to help. Hopefully this will. =)

  6. Lindsay says:

    Any pain from the removal of the stent? My mother just had hers removed yesterday and was told to expect mild pain. However, she had severe pain, almost as bad as when the stones were still there! Needless to say she ended up back in the ER. Normal?

  7. Mohsan hassan says:

    Hello guys
    I was on holidays in austria.i have the history of stones 2year but i never feel the hell pain.when i reached there thr second day in the evening i feel a littel pain in my back.slowly slowly it is coming more even i can not bear it.i went into the hospital with the help of my tullin(vien) hospital emergency they admitted me and they just gave me pain killer amd told me you need to go korenburg (vienna) hospital.he arranged the ambulance for me.when i reached there urgency a doctor team came to see me and done ultra sound.she told me about the stone and done ct scan and admit me in the hospital.after one hour she came to me and say to me we are putting a stent into your kidney.i was very happy they gonna remove my stones but i was realy dont know about the stone.any they done surgery when i wake up i just checked my belly where is the cut of surgrey but i just foud a drip with my two month the stunt is inside.the life is like hell.i cannot walk.cannot do work.cannot stop the pee.just taking tablet and waitng for the dct appointment in back home uk.

  8. Tahia says:

    Stent can it cause orgasm? is it normal because I felt like I had an orgasm with it on when I moved in places.

  9. Edward P Fox says:

    The comments are enlightening . I am about to have a stent put in in the near future. Just wondering what to expect. My stones after the sonar smash left a collection of stones which are not passing and causing pain more than what 10 mg of morphine can handle.

  10. Mandi says:

    Recently recieved a stent in my right kidney as i have a puj obstruction recently found ..i would just like to mention to people who suffer with the pain of it ive had infection on top so antibiotics cleared that but a combination of diclofenac sodium suppositorys 50mg and 20mg buscopan 4 hrly i am after one week on top of pain and more mobile than before when in pain not heavy duty pain relif as i have opiot allergy and copd but these work a treat targeting pain quiker and more directly ..on the recovery happy

  11. deep baruah says:

    It’s been two week since and today there was blood in urine. Travelled through a rough street by scooter is there any chance it’s because of that. Very curious if it’s a critical matter

    • Mandi says:

      Drink plenty of water too see if blood disapears in day or two if not u may have dislplaced then stent so would need an xray to check positioning ..maybe deop a sample into doc to test for infection to rule that out ..speedy recovery 😊

    • Holly says:

      I still have blood. I was told I’d have blood until it was removed, maybe even after

  12. Steven Webb says:

    I just had uretoscopy/basket/laser procedure, L and R, on Friday.
    Other than stent pain during urination (frequent and urgent
    Usually), no problems. Going to work tomorrow. Metering
    Hydrocodone works fine.

  13. Kellie says:

    First off, I would like to tell y’all how much I appreciate this site. I’ve been coming here and reading since I first got my stent in May. Although I didn’t acquire my stent due to kidney stones, I have experienced the pain and hell of having it and it has been enlightening and comforting to come here and feel like I’m not alone. On March 17, 2016 I experienced pain in my right lower flank that I never thought possible. I went to my family doctor and he treated me for a UTI and possible stones. I took the antibiotics he prescribed, as well as the hydrocodone, and slept pretty much for 3 days. I didn’t get any better and fever took hold of me. I ended up in the emergency room with 104.3 fever and even more pain. I was delirious. Normally in an American ER you wait FOREVER to get seen, but they took me straight back and started working on me, telling my husband I was the sickest patient they had at the time. Within 4 hours they had diagnosed me with septic shock due to an absessed kidney, performed a specials procedure to install a drain in my abdomen directly into my kidney, and had me comfortably resting in the ICU stepdown unit. Later that evening they told my husband to call in the family because they didn’t know if I was going to make it. Fortunately I’m still here! I was discharged from the hospital 4 days later with the ‘nephrostomy bag’ still stuck in my abdomen. I carried it around for the next 7 weeks until all the infection was gone and I no longer needed antibiotics. On about the 4th week of having the bag, they did a nuclear medicine test to find out why I apparently had 4 ureters. My urologist came to me and explained that I had 4 (FOUR) KIDNEYS!!! Each one had their own ureter. In the CT it simply looked like two kidneys and two ureters coming out of each one, but the nuc med test showed a division in each kidney and each division had its own ureter going to my bladder. However, the ureters on the right side joined just before going into my bladder and the blockage was on the inside of the bottom one. The kidney had gotten so full of stuff (it looked like coffee with half and half, which is probably what it was LOL) that it had been pushing on my other organs. I’m 50 years old. My doc said it took 50 years for that ureter to block that kidney. So I got better and they removed the nephrostomy and gave me one of those stents that looks just like the one in the picture above. I thought getting the stent would set me free and all would be right with the world and I could have my life back and return to work. Folks, if it sounds too good to be true it probably is….I’ve had…the stent from HELL. I have to keep it until I can have the bad kidney removed (leaving me 3 working kidneys). We are waiting for the tissue to shrink so they won’t have to cut me in half to fix it. Ugh! I’m going to get the robot to do it. So at first every time I moved, the stent dug a new hole in the bottom of my bladder. It got a little better after a few weeks. Then it started feeling like I was being stabbed in the urethra with a railroad tie and having alcohol pouring over it every time I peed. My doctor prescribed Oxybutyn and suggested AZO, which seemed to help a good bit. Except for when it didn’t. I still take the Oxy, but as time has moved on, I have educated myself on the benefits of keeping my PH regulated in my body. I quit making regular visits to the snack room at work and now I have crunchy vegetables and fresh fruit at my fingertips at all times, and I have almost stopped eating meat. No enriched ANYTHING. Yall…I have no more burning urination. I only reached out to the internet for help because my doctor told me all my pain was normal and tried to always give me more medication to take. I BEGGED him to remove the stent because he said he had got through the blockage, but he refused and said I could only get rid of the stent after surgery. By the way, I didn’t tell y’all he said I could keep this stent for a year. I go every two months to have it checked and it’s still holding, just draining that kidney like a big ol’ bag of chunky water. The moral of my story (and thank y’all for listening) is this: Eat to live. If you have a stent in your ureter, you don’t have to sound like you have Tourette Syndrome when you go pee. Control your own Alkaline and ph through the way you eat. Life is too short to be miserable even when you’re miserable. Appreciate each day. And get a Dachshund.

    • Lisa Konteh says:

      Lol I like the get a dachshund part. Thank you. This has been very informative. I’ve never heard of someone having four kidneys. How fascinating is that? My friend was a fraternal twin and his sister and he both have one kidney.

    • Marie says:

      Great ending to your post. Wishing you a speedy recovery. X

    • Jose cruz says:

      Thanks for sharing your story, I also have a stent in my urethra, I have it for two weeks, all this time I believe I’d been in hell, the first two days have been the most horrible days in my life, I think you went through a lot of more stress than me, but still I hope, I will never get through this episode of my life again.

    • Jose e cruz says:

      Thanks for sharing your story, I also have a stent in my urethra, I have it for two weeks, all this time I believe I’d been in hell, the first two days have been the most horrible days in my life, I think you went through a lot of more stress than me, but still I hope, I will never get through this episode of my life again.

  14. Erika says:

    Can I return to work whilst stent us in place? I’m due a uterus copy with biopsies and laser fragmentation of 7mm kidney stone any day now. How long do I expect to be off work?

    • Robert Hill says:

      Just depends on how you feel. My first time, three weeks ago, it was done on a Thursday. I returned to work on Monday. It was a miserable week, feeling the need to urinate every 20 to 30 minutes all day long. Otherwise, as long as you are still it’s not that bad, movement makes it worse.

      Had my second one done last Thursday, and returning to work tomorrow. The second time isn’t as bad as the first. The first, I used up 40 oxycontin. The second time I’ve taken four and none the last two days.

      Your doctor can give you a note to allow more time off if you need it. I mean, this site says the typical time to return to work is 8.5 days. And the time to feeling normal again as 16.5 days. Both seem correct to me.

      • Mandi says:

        Hi guys read ur comments and i have a relaxer for ur frequent trips buscopan 10 or 20mg dose 4 hrly i had exact problem they helped alot πŸ˜†and non prescription so can go to any chemist and buy them ..helpful to ibs spasms is muscle relaxer helps my menstrual cycle pain at 20mg and ibs at 20mg sure they wouldnt help a man in the monthly but bladder is muscle helps spasms in uterine tube πŸ˜†

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