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.

 

1,593 Responses to All about ureteral stents

  1. Letitia D Porterfield says:

    I am so glad I found this site. I am reading these comments and going wow, there people who understand what i’my going through. I had a procedure in 2013 to crush my stone but it was not successful. I waited until this year to have the surgery. I had my first surgery on 1/12. In the process of getting to the stone, my doctor nicked my kidney. I had a tube coming out of my back from my kidney and a tube going through my urethra until my next surgery on 2/10. Now I have this stint in me that is driving me crazy. The doctor said I had to keep it in for 4 weeks. I told him that was unacceptable. I cannot go to work on Monday with the pain from this stint. So my stint is coming out on Friday.

  2. Jeff says:

    I’ve had kidney stones issues for probably the last 20 years. Fortunate, my stones do not give me the pain that a lot of people have when passing. My symtons consist of lower back pain and that of being nauseated. My recent surgery was called a PCNL which I also had performed about 9 years earlier. My post PCNL symtons seemed very much different this time because of the burning sensation, and the constant peeing of blood. I had a drainage tube removed from my bladder the day after my surgery and even though I was not told by my Urologist I believe I may have a stent in place too. The constant urging to pee is probably more of an annoyance than anything else.

  3. Christopher D. West says:

    I think I won -“beat” the pain. Here’s how: I EAT ONLY WHEN IT HURTS.
    Stent placed Monday AM. First time voiding at home, shocked at how painful. Not as bad as original attack (writhing on ground, etc.) but bad (sit down, moaning, afraid of having to void again next time); nausea but no retching. Took non-opioid, but was prepared to if necessary, when I realized I could try something that helped a previous client of mine, a severely retarded woman whose nurses asked me to help get her to stop struggling when they drew blood (daily) for her diabetes. I said to give her a sip of orange juice every time they pricked her finger. It worked ( I even had data.)
    And, now I am doing this on myself. Rules: Stay hungry (I skip all meals;. It wont work if you are not hungry), Eat a little (not a lot; never satiate) as soon as you can (seconds) after the pain, NEVER before ( I keep peanuts and raisins with me always; you could use ice cream, Ensure, etc) . You should see an effect before the day is over, I expect. I was feeling better within a couple of hours. Feeling better means the pain didn’t distress me; at this point I even find myself looking forward to the pain because ..no pain, no food. Weird,….but a heck of a lot better than suffering. Also, stopped all pain medication to make sure this was really working. This is Thursday. Got out of bed for a brief walk. Even went outside. So far I’m really pleased. If you try this, please report success or failure. Hoping someone else can find some relief. Good luck. – Chris

  4. Bobodude says:

    I just had a 7mm stone removed from my right utterer. They put in a stent. The first couple of days were really rough. The pain from the stent was worse than the stone everytime I had to pee. Never thought I would be wearing a pad to catch the drips. I didn’t get to go to sanitary pad 101. Didn’t know you have to peal off the back where the sticky stuff is. Kept falling down my pants leg. Lol. While in recovery they gave me 2 oxy codone pills that did nothing. Then 2 shots of fentanyl. Did nothing. Then a shot of Toradol. That helped. It is a anti inflammatory. So when I came home I use 800 mg of Advil and it produced the same results, pain that is just bearable. So 2 oxy 375’s every 4 hrs and 800 mg Advil every 6 hrs is the best you can do short of dueladud. It’s day 3 and there is still pink urine coming out but it starts to turn yellow at the end of the pee. I get mine out in 4 days so I can make it that long. I feel so sorry for the ones that have it in for weeks or months.

    • Dee says:

      Wow. I just had a 9mm stone and a bigger one that they wouldn’t say what the size was but in the cat scan it was quite a bit bigger than the 9! Was in the ER by 9am bent over double in pain and nausea, took the cat scan and X-rays to determine I had stones. Was sent about 60 miles down the road to a urologist who determined that these stones were not going to pass and was able to get me scheduled right away for the lithotripsy and stent. They were not able to suck out all the little pieces of the stones so I am having some pain when urinating and of course bleeding. Stent is only mildly annoying. But compared to the severe pain I was having before the procedure I am very pleased so far .

  5. Melissa says:

    I had a kidney stone surgery Jan 23rd – everything went downhill from then onwards , I woke up and immediately started throwing up. My BP went sky high. Was in extreme amount of pain. Ended up at the ER Jan 30th for my continued vomiting. I am taking 6 different pills with gravol and laxative! My surgeon was going to have my stent in until March 7th! I called them yesterday and told them I cannot take this any longer and I feel like I am going crazy. They pushed the stent removal to next week. I cannot wait for this thing to get out. I was off work for two weeks and had to be driven home yesterday as I started throwing up again. Had to up my pain meds and gravol. Can barely work as I keep having to pee and every single time there’s blood , I have been bleeding for 3 weeks! This thing is stressing me right out.

  6. Heather says:

    I will found out is wrong with me on Friday.t hen I will post the results on this website so they know is wrong. It is also next to my spine that not to be like tha. This doctor is grotty and could not take me until this Friday so that is why I am not going to posting what the doctor said until probably the next week or something that week so when u people see that when is going to be posted on the website sorry about all this type and fixing what I want to say in the I hope I find out what the heck is wrong with me begin a month going for a little a half. My name was Heather
    what is wrong with on Friday and why I have the lower right back
    It also in the spine arrow so I don’t know what is going and why I am hurting all the time it getting old and tried but I liked to be waiting on as I can’t bend and twist or do pretty much nothing at all until after Friday morning at 9:40 that the time of the appointment.

  7. Heather says:

    I found what is wrong with on Friday and why I have the lower right back
    It also in the spine arrow so I don’t know what is going and why I am hurting all the time it getting old and tried but I liked to be waiting on as I can’t bend and twist or do pretty much nothing at all until after Friday morning at 9:40 that the time of the appointment.

  8. Kimberly Hales says:

    I’m going in for a 3mm stone that is stuck. They won’t do meds or lithrotripsy. So I’m going in on valentine’s day to get the Stent surgery. Now I’m thinking twice.. I have Fibromyalgia and things always are 10 times worse. What would you do?

    • Debbie says:

      I just had this surgery on Feb 6th I had a stone big as a tootsie roll and while removing that one, they found 2 more. He only got one out the other two are lodged. I have fibromyalgia and as you say everything is 10 times worse, and it was. But once your pain is under control about 3 days. You begin to heal. So now the first of March I have to go back and the other 2 removed. I personally would rather have natural child birth again. Just saying. But you need to get them removed. Those kidney stones are rough

  9. James Lovelace says:

    I had a 9mm stone removed day before yesterday. I woke up after surgery with a cath in and it must not have sealed right. The poor nurse had to change my bed 3-4 times over night. I got home yesterday and the bladder control was nonexistent! After messing up my clothes so many times, I had my wife get me some depends. When I urinate there is still blood and clots. The pain in my back makes me scream out. I have been shot in a war zone, broken my neck and had 4 surgeries and I’d do them again to avoid another stone. My biggest issue is controlling my bladder. I have to go to the bathroom ever 10-15 mins. I do go each time and the pain is there. But I can’t sleep or anything. I have drugs for the pain but the control issue is the pits!

    • D says:

      I am going thru the same thing. I went in to have 2 stones removed from my left kidney and my ureter on Feb 6. The ureter was restricted so the stent was placed to dilate the ureter. I have surgery again on the 20th to have the stones removed. I hope they remove the stent. I don’t know if I can take 9 more days of this. I’m in pain and can’t sleep at all. I had no idea this was going to b so painful. I have had many major surgeries and this stent I thought would be no big deal. Turns out to be the most painful, of any. I constantly feel like I have to pee and I am still bleeding. Nothing helps me. One of my medications is causing me to feel like I can’t breathe.

  10. leon Snyman says:

    I have a stent and it burns like fire,at times I strugle to walk,because its like a a thorn in the flesh,very uncomfortable

  11. Sherry Wright says:

    I’very h a d a stent in for a month now, and am thoroughly miserable. The thing rubs on the inside of my blladder. I liken it to a golf ball with spikes rolling around in there, but of course this is an exageration. I am planning to STRONGLY ENCOURAGE my surgeon to remove it Friday. I’ve had 4 lithotripsies. Has anyone else had these?. anyone had these to

    • amanda williams says:

      ive dealt with kidney stones almost 2 years now..it started off with a 2cm..dr said it had been sitting there for a very long time..i was in and out of hospital for a year of this pain going on..ive had 5 lithotripsys done last year..stents in twice…last time i went to him he said everything was good and no stones…i was doing good for awhile up til this pass september i was going through the pain and all…my dr moved out of town so i found a new dr..went to him and find out i have 2 stones in my kidney, my uterer tube is more narrow than suppose to be..he said whoever i was seeing damaged my kidney..they were talking about taking my kidney out but my kidney function was too low..19%..then it came up to 23% to save it…i just went back 3 weeks ago and had 2 stents put in and they left my uterer open..have to keep in for 3 months..i go back march 6th and theyre going to pull one my stones out.

  12. Mollie McAvoy says:

    I am also thankful that it’s not just me feeling like a sissy lol. These stents are miserable and I am not looking forward to going back to work with it in as I can’t really take anything for the pain then. If I recall correctly from the last time I had a Stent it did get better after a few days but the first couple are the worst. I have 3 days till I’m supposed to go back so it might be fine. Hoping for the best. I just got it placed 2 days ago so it will be there for awhile. I will adjust I’m sure, just takes time. Unless you’ve been through it though it’s pointless to try to explain to anyone how painful it really is. They won’t understand. Sorry for rambling. Good luck to everyone.

  13. faith lovett says:

    I am going for a kidney stent in a week as I have a 70% blockage in the left renal artery. I thought stenting would alleviate any pain as I do have back pain and flank pain. My Blood pressure is uncontrollable and ranges around 180/100. Am on a Clonodine patch and 3 other meds for BP. I don’t understand why peeing would be so painful…can someone explain?? Please??

  14. larissa says:

    I went for surgery to put in a stent yesterday, there is a lot of blood in my urine and it feels like i’m urninating lava. They gave me antibiotics and pain medicine, I just want to know when the blood in my urine will clear up, and when will I be able to urinate like a normal person?

    • Joe says:

      It should have clear up by now, I drank gatoraid and that seems to help me with flushing the blood .
      After it clears, you might have a blood clot come out when you first pee in the morning, and then it clears up.

    • Heather says:

      I have right side lower back it hurt’s every time I bend down to something or do any thing that all I can do is on heating pad that is pretty much it
      What do u think my problem is

  15. Mary Osheim says:

    I have had stones remove and stents in before, yes they have been uncomfortable and I bleed. My concern now is the urgency and lack of control to hold it till I get to the bathroom. How can I get back to work. I was told I have to have it in for 4 weeks.

  16. Melissa Tello says:

    Hi my name is Melissa Tello and right now IHL have a stent in me.for more then a year and also I have kidney and bladder stones also I have a tube with a bag that also drains my kidney which Iam not sure if iam spelling it right its called a nephosterme I have s on me for already going on 2or,,3,yrs I really need them to do something or take them off

  17. Jessica Ailes says:

    I have had several stones over the last 25 years and several stents. Now I recently found out after 3 days of misery I have 4 stones ranging in size of 2.2 centimeters 2.4 centimeters and 2.5 centimeters then a smaller one as advised by my doctor. I had emergency surgery and had a stent placed to move the stones from blocking my ureter but for some reason I am having alot of pain this time??? My urologist said I have to have the stones removed from my back with a tube that goes directly in my kidney and It could take six months to get this scheduled? Not to happy to have this stent that long?

    • Heather says:

      Hi my name is
      Heather
      I have a 3 mm kidney stone on my right side and I also have lower back pain with do u think that is possible Part of the 3mm kidney stone that I got

  18. Patricia L clark says:

    I just had surgery and a stint was in. The pain is horible. Every time I owe it is like razors. It is pain. I am at the end. I just want to cry. Why does this happen. Does it ever get better?I just want no pain.
    Patty
    Irisone538@gmail.com

    • Amy says:

      Omg I had the same thing. Had mine removed Tuesday 6mm and the pain from the stent is harsh. As in I can’t do much for long periods of time without being in severe pain . They told me it would uncomfortable this is well beyond that. I haven’t been able to work all week

  19. Debi says:

    How long is recovery time for a kidney stent. One work colleague has been off now for 6 weeks. I think she’s milking it …

    • JuJu says:

      Until you have had a kidney stent, please don’t be so quick to judge. I had a stent for just under 2 weeks (praise God almighty) and I was bed ridden the entire time due to the pain. Taking painkillers didn’t touch it. I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy!
      These things scrape the inside of you at every movement.
      Let’s hope that you don’t ever have to have one of these and let’s hope that you don’t have to eat your words. Highly unlikely she is milking it.

  20. Diana says:

    I had an 11mm and several other kidney stones surgically removed and a stent put in Nov.10th. 2 weeks later after having the stent taken out, I was in surgery again due to scar tissue. My urethra closed up in 2 places. Now another stent is inside. I bleed every time I use the restroom, my energy level is down.
    Is this normal?

  21. Wendy Pearson says:

    I was admitted 4 days ago with my 3rd kidney stone in 7 years. Previously I have had prompt utererorenoscopies to remove a large stone from the left ureter. This current stone is the biggest yet at 15mm, I was taken to theatre to fit a stent prior to removal of stone in 4-6 weeks…..to be honest not quite sure why this different approach was taken on this occasion but was a different consultant who may have a different approach. No real explanations were given but as I was in so much pain and on strong painkillers I may not have remembered! Not finding the stent too bad…..just feel the need to wee more often but drinking plenty is helping. Feel saddened reading some of the previous comments and don’t think I’ll complain about our NHS here in the UK again! No worries about costs…..good treatment at point of delivery. Best wishes to you all out there. Really want to stop these damn things recurring!!!

    • Terri Diane says:

      I just had Surgery this afternoon for a 15mm X 12mm stone in the Bladder. I was put under General Anesthesia, He used a Cystoscope to get to the stone and what they call gator claws to break it up. He also found several stones in my left kidney, and inserted a stent. I had suffered for 8 months with chronic uti, yeast and mrsa welts for the entire 8 months.it would of been taken care of sooner , but my Urologist has been out of town and has gotten very popular, So since toughed it out.
      I now have my very first stent, I cannot feel the stent at all and I’m peeing normally again and with less pain. I take Percocet 10’s, But rarely need them.
      My Surgeon did not mention removing it. I have also passed several large stones THROUGH the stent. Without pain. I TOO feel awful for those suffering.
      I am so Sorry and Pray you all a speedy recovery.
      PS: This is not my first stones either, I had a Bladder Stone 20 years ago that cut its way out, that I still have internal scars from. And many kidney stones in the past.

  22. Carol says:

    How long does the frequent painful urination last? The first 2 days it felt like I was peeing through razor blades or broken glass. I’m on day 4 and while the pain is less, I have the overwhelming urge to urinate every 10-30 minutes and its still painful enough to make me cry out.
    I’m also having occasional cramping, similar to menstrual cramps. Is this normal?
    Its my understanding the stents will be in for 3-5 weeks, I hope I’m not like this for the entire time as I have to go back to work in 2 days.
    After reading through this thread I see I should’ve been taking Tylenol, so far I’ve braved it on my own. This was good to know.
    Thank you in advance for any advice or suggestions.

    • Tim says:

      While ‘glad’ is the wrong word to use, it is comforting I reckon to know that I am not alone in continued discomfort days after my stent was put in.

      This is either my 15th or 16th kidney stone attack since I was 18; I am now 54. They never cease to be a special kind of miserable. Having said that, the stent is still an improvement over passing a peppercorn covered in razor blades. This stent is my first.

      Here’s hoping the both of us get passed this quickly.

      • Amy says:

        Me too I thought I was the only one. It has been unbearable pain. First the stone and now this pain. I have been basically in bed all week cuz the pain is so harsh and I tremble so bad not sure why. It’s horrible

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