Why are you having this operation?
A stent is a temporary soft plastic tube that is passed to the inside of the kidney from the bladder. It holds open the ureter, allowing urine to pass. There are many reasons for inserting stents, and most of these relate to preventing or treating a block to urine flow. Some examples are:
- A stone in the ureter obstructing the passage of urine
- A growth inside or outside the ureter, which is obstructing the passage of urine
- Damage to the ureter, which needs time to heal. A stent promotes correct healing of the ureter
- Surgery on the ureter often requires a stent to allow healing
- Blood clots coming from the kidney, which are obstructing the passage of urine
What does the operation involve?
Under general anaesthetic, a telescope is passed into the bladder, to allow a soft ‘wire’ to be passed up the ureter to the kidney. This acts as a guide, over which the stent is passed. Often, X-ray dye needs to be injected into the ureter via the telescope, and X-rays taken to outline the ureter, before the stent can be passed.
Removal of a stent can be done with either a flexible telescope (local anaesthetic) or a rigid telescope (general anaesthetic). These options will be discussed with you prior to listing for the procedure.
After the operation
You will normally be able to go home the same day. Make sure someone can take you home, and stay with you for 24 hours. Rarely, an overnight stay is required.
The length of time the stent needs to stay in will vary according to the reason it was put in. This will be discussed with you before you are discharged.
Do rest at home until you feel able to get back to functioning normally.
Simple painkillers should be taken for any discomfort. It is common to see a small amount of blood in the urine, and to have some discomfort in the bladder for a short time. Stents can irritate the bladder, give some discomfort and make you feel that you need to void frequently.
If you develop a high temperature, severe pain on passing urine, inability to pass urine or worsening bleeding, please contact the practice immediately, or go to your nearest emergency department.
Potential side effects and complications
All procedures have the potential for side effects. Although these complications are well recognised, the majority of patients do not have problems after a procedure.
Risks of the anaesthetic need be discussed with the anaesthetist who will be looking after you during the operation, and who will visit you beforehand.
There are specific risks with this surgical procedure, and these will be discussed with you before your procedure. As a guide to complement that one-on-one discussion with your surgeon, these include:
- Mild burning or bleeding on passing urine for short period after operation
- Temporary insertion of a bladder catheter
- The stent may cause pain, frequency and bleeding in the urine
- Inability to pass the stent
- Infection in the urine, requiring antibiotics
- Infection in the kidney (pyelopnehritis) which can be serious and require intravenous antibiotics
- Damage to the ureter with need for open operation to repair it
- If the ureter is damaged, occasionally a tube needs to be placed into kidney directly from the back to allow the leak to heal
- Scar or stricture of the ureter requiring further procedures
- Stents can occasionally become dislodged and require replacement
This information is intended as an educational guide only, and is here to help you as an additional source of information, along with a consultation from your urologist. The information does not apply to all patients.
Not all potential complications are listed, and you must talk to your urologist about the complications specific to your situation.