A ureteral stent is a hollow tube made of flexible plastic that may be placed in your ureter to help the healing process after kidney stone surgery and reduce the risk of complications.
At the end of your surgery, your doctor places a stent in your ureter using a scope or X-ray. An adult stent is typically 22 to 30 centimeters in length, extending from your kidney to your bladder, with a coil on each end to hold the stent in place. The stent dilates your ureter to help urine pass from your kidney to your bladder. Your doctor may leave a string attached to the stent to help remove the stent following surgery, and may tape the string to your leg or stomach.
Your doctor may also place a stent before surgery to treat an infection, a stricture or an obstruction from a stone, or to help dilate a narrow ureter.
A ureteral stent helps:
Be aware of these common side effects from a ureteral stent:
- Discomfort and pain, usually experienced as a dull feeling in your sides and groin, and can get worse while you are urinating.
- Blood in your urine. The color can range from light pink to reddish and sometimes can even have a brownish hue – but you should be able to see through it. (Medications to help with burning sensation during urination can sometimes turn urine orange or blue.) If bleeding increases significantly, call your doctor immediately or go to an emergency room for evaluation.
- A feeling of fullness and a constant need to urinate (urgency and frequency).
- Pain, pressure or a burning sensation during urination or when you move.
- Bladder muscle spasms.
- Leakage of urine due to the inability to make it to a toilet in time.
- Feeling of not completely emptying your bladder.
- Nausea and occasional vomiting.
Follow your doctor’s post-surgery instructions and remember to:
- Drink plenty of fluids.
- Take pain medicines as prescribed to relieve any discomfort from surgery or your stent.
Stents are designed to allow you to live normally; however, it is common to feel them as you move around. The side effects may disrupt activities for a few days after surgery, but typically improve after that. During this time, make sure you have easy access to a restroom. Let your doctor know if your stent is causing significant problems.
Be aware of how a stent may impact:
A stent does not typically fall out. However, if your stent gets dislodged, you may experience constant urinary incontinence that requires a protective pad. This is not a life-threatening situation, but you should contact your doctor or go to an emergency room for evaluation. Very rarely, a stent can migrate and require removal or re-positioning.
If you have a string attached to your stent, make sure to not pull on or snag the string since this can lead to stent dislodgement or movement.
A ureteral stent is typically removed four to seven days after surgery during a short office procedure, although sometimes the stent must stay in longer.
Most patients stay awake when a stent is removed, but you may have a numbing gel applied to your urethra (your urinary tract opening) before the procedure. If your stent has a string attached, your doctor gently pulls on it to remove the stent. If there is no string, your doctor uses a scope to grasp the stent coil in the bladder and gently pull it out through the urethra.