Kidney Stone Stent Procedure

If you have kidney stones that have not passed on their own or with the help of laser treatment, your doctor may recommend surgery as a treatment option. Whether or not you are a good candidate for surgery will depend on many factors, but if your doctor does deem you a good candidate for surgery the options that are open to you include percutaneous surgery, tunnel surgery, ESWL and major surgery.

Your doctor may choose to insert a stent, which is a hollow plastic tube, into your ureter before, during or after any of the surgeries above except major surgery.

A stent is basically a small, hollow tube that is designed to keep the ureter open. Your ureters are narrow tubes that are used to carry urine away from your kidneys to your bladder. When a stent is used as part of kidney stone treatment, one end of it will curl into the kidney whilst the other end will curl into the bladder. Stents have lots of holes in them to enable the flow of urine from the kidney to the bladder. The stent will be placed into the body through the bladder and the location of where the stent is will be checked with an X-ray.

When Are Stents Used to Treat Kidney Stones?

A stent will be used as part of the treatment for kidney stones when there is a complication with the kidney stone, such as when a large stone is removed and there is significant swelling, when a stone cannot be removed due to its size or location, or because there is an obstruction of some sort in the ureter.

How Long Will the Stent Stay In Place?

There is no specific rule about this and it really depends on your own personal circumstances. Stents will be kept in place until they have achieved their goal, usually until the obstruction, whatever it may be, has been relieved. How long the obstruction takes to be cleared will depend on the patient and the nature of the obstruction.

Typically, a stent will stay in place for a short duration, around three weeks to two months. However, a stent that is in the correct position can stay in place for up to three months without needing to be removed. When a stent is being used to treat a kidney stone, it can stay in place for even longer than this.

How is a Stent Removed?

Stent removal is a short procedure that can be done in an outpatient’s office under local anesthesia, so luckily you don’t have to stay in overnight with a removal unless there are severe complications. Some stents are attached to a piece of thread that remains outside of the body whilst the stent is doing its job, and then when the stent is ready to come out, the doctor can pull on this thread and remove the stent very easily.

Living With a Stent

Stents are put in place to allow people to live as normal a life as possible, but they are not without their side effects. Most of these side effects are of no danger to your health, but they can be a nuisance. You can expect to be aware of the stent at all times. Some patients will feel an increased frequency in the passing of urine and an urgent need to pass urine. Other symptoms include there being small amounts of blood in the urine, which is normal, and feeling as though the bladder has not fully emptied. Very rarely, stents can cause women to have episodes of incontinence. Stents can also cause a small amount of discomfort and pain in some patients.

Speak to your doctor for more information on stents and their uses.