Doctors typically will remove renal, or kidney stents, by pulling on a string that may have been left when the stent was put in place or by using a camera and small grasping instrument to withdraw the device. A renal stent is a thin tube that is inserted into the ureter to manage urine flow and drainage of the urinary tract. The devices can also be used when there is an obstruction in the passageway, such as a kidney stone or tumor. They can also be placed when there is a stricture, or narrowing of the ureter.
The renal stent can be removed once the ureter has properly healed. Removal by pulling on the string can be accomplished by the patient himself without having a doctor remove it with the aid of a camera and grasping device, or cytoscopy. Many patients prefer to have a medical professional remove the stent. The string can sometimes get caught on clothing and the stent could potentially be prematurely removed. The presence of the string can also be a minor aggravation for the patient.
When removing a renal stent via cytoscopy, the urologist will insert a tiny camera through the urethra into the bladder. The urethra is the tube that allows the urine to be expelled from the body. The ureters carry urine from the kidney through to the bladder. Once the camera is in place, the urologist will use a specially designed instrument to grasp the stent and remove it. The procedure lasts only a few minutes and is relatively pain-free, although sometimes lidocaine cream will be used to deaden the sensation.
The renal stent works by hooking into the kidney and bladder to remain fixed in place. The tube is flexible and engineered to conform to the body’s movements. The adult device is generally anywhere from nine to eleven inches (about 24 to 30 cm) long. The renal stent is usually placed in the patient when he is under general anesthetic and then the position is checked by taking an X-ray.
If the device has been inserted due to a tumor, it can remain for 12 months or longer prior to removal. Complications can include infection and encrustation. Urologists will often use a renal stent coated with a special solution to prevent these problems, and to reduce the possibility of having to replace it.