What is a ureteral stent?
Ureteral stent, which are small tubes that are inserted into the urinary tract to prevent or treat a blockage in the flow of urine from one kidney to another, are small tubes. Treatment of kidney stones is the most common reason for ureteral and ureteral prostheses. Here are some answers to questions that we get about ureteral and stents.
What is a Ureter?
The ureter is a tube-like structure that transports urine from the kidney to its bladder. It can be found in the middle of the abdomen. One ureter is usually assigned to each kidney. Sometimes, people are born with either two ureters for one kidney or two for both. This is known as duplication.
- 1 What is a ureteral stent?
- 2 What is a Ureter?
- 3 What is a Stent?
- 4 Why are ureteral stent placed?
- 5 What causes a blocked ureteral tub?
- 6 What are the symptoms of a stent?
- 7 Can I use a ureteral or ureteral catheter?
- 8 What length of time will the stent stay in place?
- 9 How does the stent get removed?
- 10 Can I remove the ureteral stent by myself?
What is a Stent?
A stent, a small hollow tube, is inserted into the ureter. It’s flexible and approximately 10 inches in length.
The stent’s top is placed in the ureter. It has a small curl which sits in your kidney, while the other end curls into the bladder.
A string may be visible from the outside of the body on stents. Some stents may not have visible strings.
Why are ureteral stent placed?
When normal flow is blocked, a ureteral catheter is used to allow urine flow from the kidneys to the bladder. It can also be used to prevent blockage.
What causes a blocked ureteral tub?
The most common reason to place a ureteral stent is kidney stones. Another reason is stricture, which refers to abnormal narrowing of a ureter.
A stent may be placed in an inflamed, swollen or damaged ureteral tube to prevent the kidneys from draining during healing.
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What are the symptoms of a stent?
The following are the common symptoms that you might experience after a stent has been placed:
- Urine with blood – This can range from light pink urine to darker urine that is similar to red wine.
- Dysuria (burning sensations during urination), can range from mild to moderate. Dysuria is usually treated by increasing fluid intake and avoiding certain foods and medications.
- Urgency is the feeling/sensation that you feel when you need to get somewhere.
- Frequency is the frequency at which you use the bathroom more frequently than usual. Frequency can vary from once every 30 minutes to once per hour. Increase fluid intake will cause frequency to increase.
- Spasms in the bladder or ureter. A cramping sensation in the middle to lower abdomen that is similar to a muscle cramp.
You should consult your doctor if you have symptoms that are not normal but with a stent. These are:
- Increased fluid intake does not improve the constant dark urine.
- Any thick clots in the urine or tissue that causes difficulty urinating
- You are unable or unwilling to urinate. Retention can be characterized by small dribbles or discomfort in the lower abdomen.
- Any severe pain that is not controlled by prescription or over-the-counter medication.
- Persistent fever over 101.8 deg
Can I use a ureteral or ureteral catheter?
With a stent in position, you can still do your normal activities. Although there might be some discomfort, the stent won’t limit your activities.
Repeated lifting or reaching your hands over your head may result in bleeding. This can be caused by irritation to the bladder stent.
What length of time will the stent stay in place?
The reason the stent was placed will determine how long it stays in your ureter. You should have them removed within the recommended timeframe by your doctor.
- Pre-stone treatment is usually performed a week before surgery.
- Post-stone treatment
- After a simple ureteroscopy, where the stone and any broken pieces were removed: 2-3 Days
- Lithotripsy (soundwave therapy to break up stones): 7-14 Days
- Because of an external force, such as a tumor or another growth, putting pressure on your ureter.
- A stent can remain in place for up to three months. Depending on the extent of growth, it may be kept in place for many years. Stents should be replaced every 3-4 months.
- Because of a narrow ureter or stricture:
- It will vary depending on how you are being treated by your doctor.
How does the stent get removed?
The string can be removed from the office if it is visible outside of the body. This is for temporary stents that are only needed for a week or less. This can be done in the office by a nurse practitioner within days of your surgery.
Minor in-office procedures are required for ureteral stents without a visible string or those that were placed to allow for a longer healing time.
The cystoscope, a small flexible scope that can be inserted into the urethra allows the doctor to view the stent inside the bladder. The doctor then grasps the scope with tiny clamps and takes out the stent.
This procedure must be performed by a physician and must be planned ahead. To ensure that no large fragments of stone are visible, an X-ray may need to be taken before the stent is removed. Additional procedures may be required for large fragments that are not passing. The stent would still be in place in these instances.
Can I remove the ureteral stent by myself?
It is not a good idea to try to remove a stent by yourself. You could cause more damage than you think. This could include:
- Infection, kidney, ureter, bladder, or bladder damage
- Extreme pain
- Urinary retention
Re-blockage of the ureter by stone fragments that were not removed during the original procedure can cause severe pain and will require another hospital/ER visit in order to replace the stent.