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.


1,737 Responses to All about ureteral stents

  1. Kathy Johnson says:

    Well 💩! – I haven’t been worried until I read your comments regarding the amount of pain and dysfunction due to a stent. I have a 1.5, 1.8 up to 2cm, yes centimeter, kidney stone in addition to small one. Allegedly it’s going to take 3 Lithotripsy procedures and 3-5 stents. At first I was thrilled I wasn’t having a PCN now I’m rethinking what to wish for. Years ago my, then 17 yr old, daughter had a PCN which was immensely painful, she peed blood and urine out of her incision in her back for 3 long weeks. It was horrible watching my child go through that so I prayed and prayed for the pain to be for me and not her. In a way, half my prayers were answered. Is anyone else a heart patient? I’m curious just how much pain they’re going to let me endure. It’s not good for my newly repaired heart I guess. Good luck to you all especially Sharon. This is bad enough let alone being homeless. I hope you get to tell this as a sucsess story one day and how you were determined to change your life because of this.

  2. sharon says:

    I am a 60 year old with a “rock garden”. The biggest stone measures a bit over 1 centimeter. Yes! I said a centimeter!. I have had a stint in since April 18 and todays date is July 16. I have had three lithotipsys and find out in two days if I worked this time. I have no words to describe the roller coaster ride this whole trip has caused me. I actually peed 83 time in one day. I feel the constant urge to pee. Always.I am praying they knock me out to remove the stint ! The doc gave me hyoscyamine for “spasms” , I dont think they help at all. Nothing has passed, except this gummy black substance. Dont have a clue what it is. I cant imagine having this stint in much longer…nobody should have to suffer like this. It cant be healthy to keep it in much longer.

  3. Sharon says:

    I had a kidney stent put in 2 weeks ag for kidney stones. I’m in constant nagging pain , my side, lower abdomen and back r so tender even clothing hurts. My urine is bright red it hurts me to pee and I feel constipated cos I’m scared to push. I’m so tired cos it’s hard for me to find a comfortable position to sit or lay so I’m not sleeping well, even standing and walking hurts me at times. I’m nauseous and cry all the time. They didn’t tell me it would be like this, they should have told me. I’ve been homeless for over 3 years, living mostly in my car & on my own, it’s been a difficult time , but now it’s unbearable. How can this possibly be doing any good? I don’t even have a doctor or nurse to ask questions, the clerk just told me to come back on the 31st, more than 2 weeks away. I would rather die before then.

  4. roger monticue says:

    I had a stents put in 7-5-17 and its hurts so bad when I pee and walk I took off work 1 day and run out of pain meds they told I be back on the 7-12-17 to get it removed out I hope so they will not give any pain meds they only give f 12 im never getting this done no more how do they removed it please e mail please thanks

  5. Karen Lestochi says:

    Been dealing with this since June 26 kidney stone stuck size 12mm did emergency surgery, placed a stent in dont go for kidney stone removal until July 18 in pain and tryinh to work.

  6. Shaik says:

    Hi every one..
    I suffered with calculus in my right it was diagnosed and treated surgically method URSL with DJ stent.done and my urologist advised me for removal of stent after 15days under General anesthesia.
    Now they have removed the stent but again they have put a my urologist suggesting me to keep it for 10days more..

    Pls suggest am not able to understand…y there is again they placed stent.
    Is it normal

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