Urologists use plastic tubes called stents to keep the ureter, or the tube connecting the kidney to the bladder, open when blocked. This blockage can be caused by either a tumor, stricture (scar), stone or via a procedure to treat these conditions. Stents are used routinely after performing ureteroscopy, or in some cases ESWL. Stents are hollow tubes that have holes in the sides at each end. When placed, they curl on both ends such that they are held in place in the kidney and the bladder. The purpose of an ureteral stent is to bypass obstruction and allow urine to flow to the bladder.
What To Expect During Ureteral Stent Placement
When a patient has a stent placed, the experience can vary widely. Perhaps 80% of patients will have minor annoyance only, feeling perhaps that their bladder is irritated, mild kidney pain while urinating, and almost always occasional blood in the urine. Another 15% will find them more annoying, with more but tolerable discomfort, feeling as if they may have a bladder infection, mild constipation, etc. However, 5% of patients, most commonly younger women, will find them intolerable. In these cases, the stent will simply be removed earlier than planned for the patient’s comfort.
Stents are removed in the office via cystoscopy. At times, the stent is placed such that there is a nylon thread attached to the end that exits the patient’s urethra. This allows the stent to be removed without cystoscopy.
Therefore, mild pain, bladder irritation, and especially blood in the urine are of no concern. However, as with all urologic procedures, fevers or abdominal distention in the setting of a stent is never normal. If you are experiencing an emergency that cannot be accommodated by an office visit the same or the next business day in either of our locations, please dial 911 or go to your nearest or favorite emergency room and ensure that Dr. Engel or Dr. Tobon are contacted to take part in your care. As a reminder, USW physicians have privileges at Reston Hospital Center, Holy Cross Hospital Silver Spring, and Holy Cross Hospital Germantown.