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How Do Doctors Insert a Urinary Stent?

A. Pasbjerg
By
Updated May 17, 2024
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When the passage between a person's kidneys and bladder becomes blocked, a doctor may perform a procedure to insert a urinary stent into the tube between them, the ureter. First, it is necessary to determine which size and type of stent is best suited to the patient's needs. The procedure is typically performed in the hospital, under general anesthesia, though in some cases the patient is kept awake and given local anesthesia. Placement of the stent is usually accomplished by insertion through the urethra, which is the tube that leads from the bladder out of the body, though in certain cases an incision through the skin may be needed to reach the ureter.

There are a number of different types of urinary stent, and the right one needs to be chosen for a patient before the procedure can be done. Depending on the patient's needs and physiology, different materials, sizes, and designs of stent might be used. For example, a patient getting a stent put in temporarily may be better suited for an open-ended stent, while someone having one placed more permanently may fare better with one that has coiled ends to hold it in place. A stent may also have a string attached for the doctor to later pull it out, or it may not if the doctor intends to remove it with a cytoscope.

Once the appropriate urinary stent is chosen, the patient will need to be prepped for the procedure. The doctor may do a physical examination, take a urine sample, or run some blood tests to ensure the patient is in good enough physical health for it. Ureteral stenting is usually performed in the hospital, though it may not require an overnight stay. Typically, it is performed while the patient is under general anesthesia, though in some cases the person may be awake and only receive local anesthesia.

Placement of a urinary stent often requires no surgery. Entering the body through the urethra, the doctor will run a thin, flexible instrument called a cytoscope up through the bladder to the ureter. A guide wire may also be inserted, which can then be viewed on a screen using a fluoroscope for easier placement of the stent. The wire and cytoscope are then withdrawn from the body. While this is the preferred method for inserting a urinary stent, it is not successful in all patients. In those cases, a surgical incision may be made in the skin, and the stent inserted via the kidney.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
A. Pasbjerg
By A. Pasbjerg
Andrea Pasbjerg, a WiseGEEK contributor, holds an MBA from West Chester University of Pennsylvania. Her business background helps her to create content that is both informative and practical, providing readers with valuable insights and strategies for success in the business world.

Discussion Comments

By anon341249 — On Jul 09, 2013

My husband had a 6mm stone stuck in his ureter. It was a holiday and the hospital couldn't get him surgery room time to remove it. So the urologist placed a stent and gave him heavy duty pain meds and sent him home until they could get him a surgical date.

We requested another urologist who ordered surgery to remove the stent and stones within five days. He had the surgery today and the new surgeon found that the stent the other surgeon had placed had pushed the 6mm stone back up into the kidney.

He broke up all the stones and removed them, and then placed a new stent to allow urine passage until the swelling subsides. Was the first doctor a quack or what?

A. Pasbjerg

A. Pasbjerg

Andrea Pasbjerg, a WiseGEEK contributor, holds an MBA from West Chester University of Pennsylvania. Her business background helps her to create content that is both informative and practical, providing readers with valuable insights and strategies for success in the business world.
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