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.


701 Responses to All about ureteral stents

  1. Chris says:

    Yeah im 45 and I’ve passed a couple stones in my time. It was 8 hrs in the fetal positions a then it was gone. This time I had a side pain that kept me in bed.I was diagnosed with a 17 mm kidney stone. So far hey installed the stent tno avoid obstruction its been a horrible experience. I got infection for 7 days begged to die.that was fixed up by a couple days of fluids and antibiotics in the I need to wait a month before the guy is available to break up the stone.its been a painful , burning hell so everyone good luck

  2. bela says:

    My boyfriend just had his stent removed yesterday and he still bleeding I want to know why and how long?

  3. kathie says:

    I have had a 3-4 mm stone that was diagnosed 12/28/ is still there :( i had a stent but needed it removed as it was rubbing my bladder .
    So back to where i was 3 months ago !! The kidney stone is still stuck at the junction of kidney and ureter. WHAT DO I DO ???? I KNOW THESE ARE NOT GOOD TO HAVE ?????

    • Georgia says:

      I just had this same problem with a stone 7mm stuck in ny ureter down by my bladder. They went get it out and it was jammed so tight they drilled a hole in it to get it out. It was causing my kidney to back up. Now I have stent and it hurts. Feels like the string is in my vaginal area. uou need to have this stone removed asap!

  4. nagendra says:

    what is the reason of bleeding after removing kidney stone and placing stent

  5. Prasen Inamdar says:

    Iam 43, have a stent in after removal of 8mm stone which was blocking flow.Want to crib about blood,discomfort and too much urination…but thats nothing when I read about pregnant mothers with growing barbies and stents pain seems lesser…speedy recovery to all!

  6. Carolyn R says:

    Had my stent placed on 3/10/15 after trying to pass a 3 MM stone since 2/19/15. The pain of the stone is horrible but sometimes I feel the stent is just as bad. They had to take the stone out because it was lodged in the ureter and creating backup and bacteria in my kidney which was slowing down my kidney function. I’m happy no permanent damage was done but I HATE this stent. I pee blood all the time, have flank pain, and burning while I pee. I feel I can never get comfortable. I’m hoping to be back to normal soon and not have to deal with this again. I’m sorry for everyone else who is suffering too. I hope everyone gets better soon. :(

    • Kellie says:

      I had my stent placed in 13 February 15 this is the most uncomfortable thing I’ve ever felt the urgency of going to the toilet bleeding every time I urinate the whole thing makes me so uncomfortable and I still have to have it in for a couple more months till they can remove my 7mm stone

  7. chelsey says:

    I am 26 years old and I just had a Stent put in last night…I kept getting kidney infections…finally found out that I have a 1.5 cm that clearly I can’t pass on my own I have no clue how long I have to deal with the Stent but I am sick and tired of being sick and tired

  8. Whitney says:

    I am 31 wks pregnant, and had a surgery for stent insertion back in mid-Jan. I still have the stent in, and am scheduled for a stent CHANGE in 3 wks. The pain comes and goes, but it’s definitely hurting a lot more since my baby is growing. I have flank pain and the stent feels like a screwdriver trying to escape my ureter. Cannot wait until I get the stent completely removed!!!

  9. Abbey says:

    I had a stent put in about 2 months ago. I had went into septic shock because of a kidney stone that had only caused me pain for about 6 hours. I almost didn’t make it because I also have COPD. My stent has caused me no problems up until today when I noticed some blood in my urine but after reading all these other stories I guess the blood is normal so I calmed down. I guess I am very lucky to have no problems with it because I needed it .

    • Nic says:

      Wow reading this provided me with the feeling in not alone .
      I am 30 weeks pregnant and a week ago had a stent places due to a 8mm stone .
      I also have a lot of pain which I’m told is normal and a but of blood.
      but with the extra weight if baby I seems to be worse that I imagined it would be .
      I find after my bladder is empty is when the most pain hits !
      It hurts when I walk or love to much , I haven’t tried a heat pack but think I will now !
      I’m delivering my baby at 37 weeks.

  10. Samantha says:

    I am almost 30 weeks pregnant and had a stent put in when I was 24 weeks due to a 9mm stone. I feel like most people on here and just cannot wait to get back to my normal self and routine. I experience a lot of discomfort on top of having a growing baby inside. Some days are ok and some days are the worst. The pain will hit at different times and also if I do a lot of walking or standing. Heating pads and hot hot showers have become my best friend through all of this as it does provide some comfort. I

    • Amanda says:

      I have been experiencing the same thing. I am 32 weeks pregnant and had a stent put in when I was 26 weeks. Not sure how big the stone is, but they said that I definitely have a blockage, and during the procedure determined that my kidney was definitely larger than it should be due to the irritation. Since the procedure I have been taken off of work and do not do much standing or walking. The Dr. said that I would feel fine and can resume normal activities immediately, however that’s not physically possible. We are looking at inducing at 38 weeks to hopefully deal with the kidney issues sooner. I have a stent replacement next week as well which I’m not exactly looking forward to.

      • Sandeepa says:

        I too am pregnant and have 11 mm stone near my bladder and another 2 on my right which appears to be small .i had my stent put in at 27 weeks and I am 32 weeks now. I am having horrible pain near my bladder area especially when baby moves. I still sometime bleed when I wee, sit, walk and sleeping is still a big problem and doctors say I can still have normal delivery. I am seriously scared to go into labour now

  11. Lori says:

    I’ve had lots of pain from the kidney stones,and the stints,too! BUT,the worst pain I’ve ever dealt with,was the gas they left inside of my gutt from the surgery!! OMG! I’ve never prayed so hard for DIARRHEA in my life as I did 2 days ago after my kidney stone surgery! They must’ve thought I needed to have my belly blown up, like a helium balloon,or,something! OMG,the pain was unbearable!!! I was ready to call an ambulance! But,after passing out from the pain about 8 hours later,..I woke up sitting up in my recliner,with no more pain, whatsoever! I’ve been bleeding for almost 3 days. And,I’m feeling alittle sore in my back from the stint, too! But,I’ll never forget that horrible gas that would not come out! Now,I know what having a baby feels like! OMG!!! Even the kidney stones didn’t feel that bad next to that pain!! Wow!!! And, it’s almost over since the stint only has to stay in for 3 more weeks! Then,I’ll have to go to Phoenix,to get the other 2 out of my kidneys! They have the big machines there! Next time,I’ll have all of them done that way! No more surgery for me,if I can avoid it from now on! No thanks!!!

    • Brenda says:

      I know what your talking about. i agree with you about stones being worst then having a kid and I have 1 kid to compare it to. I just got through having my 4th kidney stone remove today. I had the Ureteroscopy and laser lithotripsy. The laser the stone to small or dust pieces. The only thing I don’t like about it was the stent, it irritates me. Make you feel you have to pee a lot.

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