Ureteral stent placement is a surgery to place a soft plastic tube in the ureter. The ureters are long tubes from the kidneys to the bladder. It carries urine out of the kidney into the bladder.
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Changes in the ureter can slow or block the flow of urine. Urine that can't flow freely will back up into the kidney. This can make it hard for the kidneys to work as they should. The back-up can also damage the kidneys and lead to more severe illness. A stent can improve the flow of urine. It may also be used to support a ureter while it heals.
Ureters may become narrow or blocked because of:
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will talk to you about possible problems, like:
Before your procedure, talk to your doctor about ways to manage factors that may increase your risk of complications such as:
The doctor will ask about:
The type of anesthesia will depend on your comfort levels and overall health. Options include:
A machine can show images of the ureter and kidney. The doctor will use the images to help guide the stent to the right place.
A special scope is used. It is a small flexible tube that can be passed through the opening where urine passes out of the body. The scope is passed into the bladder. A tube is then passed through the scope into the ureter. The tube releases a contrast. It is a dye that will highlight areas of the ureter and kidney.
A wire will then be passed through the scope to the kidney. The stent will slide over the wire until one end is in the kidney. The bottom end of the stent will stay in the bladder. Once the stent is in place the wire is removed. The doctor will curl the ends of the stent to keep it in place. Images will be used to make sure the stent is in place. The scope is then removed.
A string may be attached to the stent. The string will be left hanging through the bladder and out of the body.
The care team in the intensive care unit (ICU) will track vital signs after surgery. They may also check for urine flow.
Less than 1 hour
You may feel some pressure during the surgery. Anesthesia will prevent pain. There can be soreness after the procedure. It can be managed with medicine.
Most will go home the same day. A hospital stay may be needed if there were complications.
At the Hospital
Medicine may be given to prevent infection or blood clots. An x-ray may be done to check the stent placement.
Some activity will be limited during recovery. This may affect your job.
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 or in the doctor's office by pulling on the string that was attached. The doctor will let you know when this stent can be removed.
Long-term stents will need to be replaced within 3 to 6 months.
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 17, 2020.
Ureteral stenting and nephrostomy. Radiology Info—Radiological Society of North America website. Available at: https://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=ureteralNephro. Accessed September 17, 2020.
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 17, 2020.
Last reviewed September 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrienne Carmack, MD Last Updated: 1/5/2021