Ureteral stent placement is a surgery to place a soft plastic tube called a stent in the ureter. The ureters are long tubes from the kidneys to the bladder. Urine leaves the kidneys through the ureter and passes into the bladder.
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If the ureter narrows or becomes blocked it can slow the flow of urine. The urine backs up in the kidneys and makes it difficult for the kidneys to work properly. The back up of urine can also cause damage to the kidneys and lead to more severe illness. A stent can help to keep a narrow or blocked ureter open. It may also be used to support a damaged ureter while it heals.
This procedure may be done because of:
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
Before your procedure, talk to your doctor about ways to manage factors that may increase your risk of complications such as:
Leading up to the procedure:
The type of anesthesia will depend on your comfort levels and overall health. Options include:
An imaging tool may be used so that the doctor can see the ureter during the surgery. A needle will be used to inject a contrast material through the skin and into the kidneys. The contrast will make the kidneys and ureter visible on image screen. The doctor will use the image to help guide the stent to the right area.
A cystoscope is a small flexible tube. It will be passed through the opening where urine passes out of the body. The scope is passed up into the bladder and ureter. The stent will then be passed through the scope until one end is in the kidney. The bottom end of the stent will remain in the bladder. Both ends of the stent are curled to help keep it in place. Once the images show the stent is in place the scope will be removed. Sometimes a string will be attached to the stent. The string will be left hanging through the bladder and out of the body.
You will be taken to the recovery room and monitored. The length of time you will need to stay will depend on the type of anesthesia used.
Less than one hour
You may feel some pressure during the surgery but anesthesia will prevent pain. Pain and discomfort after the surgery can be managed with medicine.
You may be able to go home the same day. If you have any problems, you may need to stay longer.
At the Hospital
Right after the procedure, you will be in a recovery room. Your blood pressure, pulse, and breathing will be checked often. Recovery may also include:
During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to reduce your chance of infection such as:
There are also steps you can take to reduce your chances of infection such as:
Your doctor may give you medications to ease discomfort or fight infection.
Common side effects to expect:
Certain activities may be restricted or limited during recovery.
Long-term stents will need to be replaced, often within 3-6 months. Removal or replacement can be done with the same surgery.
Some stents may only be needed for a short time. Most stents will need to be removed with a second surgery. Some stents can be removed at home by pulling on the string that was attached. The doctor will let you know when this stent can be removed.
It is important to check your recovery. Alert your doctor to any problems. If any of the following occur, call your doctor:
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
National Kidney Foundation
Urology Care Foundation
Canadian Urological Association
The Kidney Foundation of Canada
Ureteral stent FAQ. Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center Department of Urology. Available at: https://wexnermedical.osu.edu/urology/ureteral-stents. Accessed September 7, 2017.
Ureteral stenting and nephrostomy. Radiology Info—Radiological Society of North America website. Available at: https://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=ureteralNephro. Updated May 1, 2017. Accessed September 7, 2017.
What is extrinsic obstruction of the ureter? Urology Care Foundation website. Available at: http://www.urologyhealth.org/urologic-conditions/extrinsic-obstruction-of-the-ureter?article=127&display=1. Accessed September 7, 2017.
Last reviewed September 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrienne Carmack, MD Last Updated: 9/7/2017