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.
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.
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.
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:
Antibiotics if an infection is present or possible
Medication to prevent blood clots
X-rays may be used to view the stent
During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to reduce your chance of infection such as:
Washing their hands
Wearing gloves or masks when appropriate
There are also steps you can take to reduce your chances of infection such as:
Washing your hands often and reminding visitors and healthcare providers to do the same
Reminding your healthcare providers to wear gloves or masks when appropriate
Your doctor may give you medications to ease discomfort or fight infection.
Common side effects to expect:
Urine will have a pinkish color
Increased urge to urinate
Burning sensation during urination
Discomfort in the back near the kidneys
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.
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: ...(Click grey area to select URL) Accessed September 7, 2017.
Last reviewed September 2018 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Adrienne Carmack, MD Last Updated: 9/7/2017