What is ureteric stent insertion?
A ureteric stent is a soft flexible tube that is temporarily placed in the ureter to make a channel for the urine to pass and allow drainage of the kidney. This is crucial as stagnation of urine even for a small period builds up pressure in the kidney and also increases the risk of infection, which may lead to kidney damage.
Why might I need ureteric stent insertion?
A stent is placed when your urologist is concerned that the urine may not drain well through the ureter either due to blockage (for example due to stones or strictures), or following a surgery on or near the ureter, or following a procedure involving insertion of an instrument into the ureters and kidney.
What does the procedure involve?
Usually, a stent is placed under general anaesthesia by using a cystoscope that is passed through the urethra (waterpipe) into the bladder. The stent is then placed in the ureter and kidney through the opening of the ureter in the bladder. An X-ray confirms the correct position of the stent.
Stents used for an adult patient vary from 24 cm to 30 cm in length. One end of the stent is placed in the kidney and the other end is placed in the bladder. To prevent displacement the stent is coiled at its ends.
Stents are usually placed for short periods, which may vary from a few weeks to few months and are removed thereafter. Although some patients might require this as a long term option for kidney drainage if they have an underlying chronic cause of obstruction
How long does it take to recover from ureteric stent insertion?
Recovery from ureteric stents insertion is relatively quick, and in most patients will only take a few days.
Removal of stent is a minor procedure which only takes a few minutes. This is performed using a flexible cystoscope, usually, under local anaesthesia. Sometimes, a thread is attached to the lower end of the stent and stays outside the body through the urethra. Such stents can be removed just by pulling the thread.
Are there any risks associated with ureteric stent insertion?
Some patients may feel the stent and could experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- Discomfort or pain in the bladder and kidney region. Sometimes, pain or discomfort may also be felt in the groin, urethra or genitals. Pain or discomfort is more noticeable after urination and physical activity.
- Urinary symptoms may include small amounts of blood in the urine, urgency to pass the urine, increased frequency of urination and sensation of incomplete emptying of bladder.
These symptoms usually resolve within 24 to 48 hours when the stent is removed.
Complications associated with ureteral stents may include stent infection, encrustation, obstruction or migration.
Ureteral stent development is underway which is working on new ideas on stent design, composition material and stent coating to eliminate the adverse effects of ureteral stent usage and improve its long-term efficacy. Your urologist will discuss the different types of stents that are available and can be helpful in your condition.