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A renal stent is a medical device which is designed to be used in the treatment of kidney problems. There are several different types of stents intended for different purposes. Like stents intended for use in other regions of the body, a renal stent is a small tube which facilitates drainage or flow from one area of the body to another. Candidates for stenting usually have the device placed by a specialist such as a nephrologist, a doctor who specializes in treatment of kidney disorders.
One type of renal stent is designed to address blockages in the ureter, the tube which drains urine from the kidneys to the bladder. This type of renal stent holds the ureter open so that it can drain freely. This can be used to help patients pass kidney stones and to address other blockages such as narrowing of the ureter caused by inflammation, infection, scarring, or tumors. The stent has coils on either end which fix it in place and ensure that it will not drift.
Another type of renal stent is designed to be used on the renal artery. In this case, the stent holds the artery open so that the flow of blood is not disrupted by a blockage. The renal artery can be subject to stenosis or narrowing as a result of chronic disease and other medical issues. If a doctor suspects that a patient needs a renal artery stent, a medical imaging study is conducted to look at the blood vessels which surround the kidneys, and an angiogram may be performed with the use of tracer dyes to follow the flow of blood through the area.
Having a stent inserted can be painful, and anesthesia is using during the procedure to keep the patient comfortable. Once the renal stent is in place, the patient may need to follow special care directions. For example, if a stent is placed in the renal artery, it may be necessary to take special medications to prevent clots from forming in and around the stent. The patient may also need to be periodically examined to confirm that the stent is still in place and that it is working properly.
Before having a renal stent inserted, patients should make sure that their doctors are familiar with their complete medical history, in case there are any contraindications which could make a stent inadvisable. In addition, patients should ask about what kind of stent is being used, the purpose of the stent insertion, and what the expected outcome of the stenting will be. They may also want to ask about special care directions which will need to be followed and what will happen if or when the stent needs to be removed.
When I had my first kidney stone attack, the doctors discussed the possibility of a renal stent. They said I could expect more stones to form on a three to five year cycle, so a stent might help to keep them from becoming problematic. They finally decided not to implant one, since I couldn't afford the procedure on my income at the time. I think they would probably recommend one now if I ever had another kidney stone attack.