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What Is a Urinary Stent?

A urinary stent may be temporarily used to treat kidney stones or other bladder obstructions.
If urine is allowed to build up in the kidneys, then serious problems might result.
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  • Written By: C. Martin
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 16 October 2014
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In the field of medicine, a urinary stent is a tube that is inserted into the ureter to aid the flow of urine from the kidneys to the bladder. This is a common treatment for a variety of urinary problems, including kidney stones. It is usually a temporary treatment designed to physically relieve an obstruction that is preventing the normal passage of urine to the bladder.

Kidney obstructions occur when something blocks or impedes the ureter, the muscular tube that leads from each kidney to the bladder and through which urine flows. Such obstructions may have a number of different root causes. Kidney stones, or particles of stones, can move into the ureter and block it. The ureter itself may become narrowed due to scarring or other problems. Obstructions may also occur after urinary surgery due to infection.

Ureteral stenting is a vital procedure when kidney obstructions occur, because if urine is allowed to build up in the kidneys then serious problems may result. High pressure builds in the kidneys, resulting in damage. Infection can also occur as the urine in the kidney stagnates.

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The root cause of kidney obstructions cannot always be detected and treated immediately. The insertion of a urinary stent is, therefore, a common procedure in urology, in order to prevent permanent damage to the kidneys while the root cause of the problem is resolved. Another scenario where a urinary stent may be important is after surgery to the ureters. This can allow the ureters to heal while providing a temporary help to the drainage process.

Urinary stents are usually made from flexible plastic. They are thin, hollow tubes with a coiled portion at each end. Once the stent is inserted, the straight part of the stent, which is usually around 24 to 30 centimeters in length, runs along inside the ureter. One coiled end is present inside the kidney and the other inside the bladder. The coiled parts of the stent keep it in place.

A urinary stent is usually inserted under general anesthetic. It may be done during other urinary surgery, or as a stand-alone procedure. In the latter case, the procedure is usually performed using a device called a cystoscope. This is a kind of telescope that is pushed up via the urethra, which is the tube leading from the bladder to the external urinary opening. Once inserted, the position of the urinary stent may be checked using an x-ray.

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JessiC
Post 4

Stent removal is apparently a much wanted relief for folks who have them to help them pee. Particularly men seem to be very glad to see those stents go.

I know that my daddy was tickled to head back to the doctor’s office to have that thing taken out! He said it was just plain irritating and left him feeling like he had to pee all of the time, or like he hadn’t quite finished when he did go.

One way or another, these stents are obviously necessary but they can be more than a little aggravating to people who are already sore and swollen in the first place.

oscar23
Post 3

My brother has a terrible time with kidney stones on a regular basis, and he has often had to have stents put into place so that he could continue to pass water.

Kidney stones themselves seem to make not only his private parts hurt, but his back and abdomen as well. It’s not uncommon for him to get very nauseous and have a fever with them either. He says that when he pees, if he can pee, it burns badly and he often passes blood too.

However, once the stones have either quit moving or the doctors have taken care of them, he has often been left with a stent placement for a while longer. I’m not exactly sure why, but I know that he hates that part of the whole ordeal almost as much as he does the actual stones.

Perdido
Post 2

@wavy58 - Your doctor also could have been concerned about the possibility of cyst rupture during insertion of the stent. Since you would be under an anesthetic, the person inserting the stent would not know if they were hitting any cysts or not, and you would experience immense pain upon awakening if they had ruptured any cysts.

wavy58
Post 1

I have polycystic kidney disease, and though kidney stones are common in people with this disease, my nephrologist told me never to let a physician give me a stent. I believe he thought the risk of getting a kidney infection from the stent would be greater than any benefits it might offer me.

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