How is a kidney stent placed?

If you’re reading this, chances are that you have been told by your urologist that a kidney stone or an obstruction in the ureter is making life difficult for one of your kidneys. Fear not! Kidney stents may look like torture devices from medieval times but they can be lifesaving when it comes to relieving pressure on the affected kidney and ensuring smooth urine flow. In this article, we will delve into how these wonder tubes are placed inside the body with minimal discomfort and maximal expertise.

Understanding Kidney Stents

A kidney stent, also known as a ureteral stent, is essentially a flexible tube made of plastic or metal mesh that acts as a conduit between your bladder and kidney, allowing urine to drain efficiently. It’s about 10-12 cm long (don’t ask me why) and has little curly ends that sit snugly in the bladder and renal pelvis (the top part of the kidney). The rest of it snakes through the narrow twists and turns of your ureter – which can range from 22 cm to 30 cm long – kind of like trying to push noodles through a straw.

Who Needs A Kidney Stent And Why?

There are several conditions where inserting a kidney stent becomes essential:

  • When there’s an obstruction in any part of the urinary tract system
  • To relieve swelling or inflammation caused due to stones or cancerous growths
  • During surgery such as removing stones
  • As post-surgical support after transplantations

Without this tiny tube, urine builds up above the blockage site causing pain, infections, fever, bleeding among many other complications. That explains why getting these little suckers inserted quickly leads one closer towards feeling no pain!

What Happens After Insertion?

The presence of an internal foreign object does create discomfort, and it is not uncommon to feel like you have a constant urge to pee or mild cramps. Antibiotics may be prescribed if necessary, and your doctor will advise on how many days or weeks the stent needs to stay in depending on the underlying condition.

Why Are Kidney Stents Placed With A Scope?

Now that we know what kidney stents are and why they’re needed, let’s jump into the real question of How? And like most things in medicine nowadays, this one starts with a camera!

  • The procedure is usually done under anesthesia
  • Your urologist inserts an endoscope – also known as a cystoscope or ureteroscope – through your urethra (the tube that takes urine out of your body) till it reaches your bladder.
  • This small device contains lenses and fiber-optic guides which allow visualization inside your urinary tract

Once they see what’s going on down there…

Placing A Kidney Stent: Step-by-Step

There are several steps involved:

1. Preparing For Surgery

Before even think about sticking anything up there with leg-room worthying width wise,[1]
become too gassy/sleepy/ginger-grizzly for comfort,[2] y urologist will first order some tests such as:
If you had enough energy left after running around getting these tests conducted;
you would be fundamentally ready for surgery!
Blood tests
Urine studies including cultures
Imaging studies such as X-rays or CT scans

Getting all pertinent results speeds up decision making regarding time frame for insertion among other concerns necessary while performing surgeries.

2. Positioning The Patient And Sterilization Of Instruments

You’ll either be lying flat on an operating table with legs wide apart reminiscent of childbirth vibes accompanied by lots of trippy lights & machines…OR sat in Lithotomy positioning, even grander birthing vibes at this point![3] The area will be cleaned and sterilized to avoid infections according to protocol. (Pro-tip: Make sure they don’t forget the hand sanitizer before they start)

3. Inserting The Endoscope And Locating The Affected Area

Your friendly neighborhood urologist (wearing gloves of course!) now slowly inserts the ureteroscope through your urethra while monitoring images on a screen to guide it towards your bladder while keeping you comfortable throughout (kind of like taking an Uber where you have no idea which direction you’re going but are still happy about not having to drive)![4]. Once this is done, wider tubes (accessories that vary in size like pearls) are then passed via the endoscope into the strictured or obstructed areas leading one closer towards feeling less “blocked”.

4. Placing The Stent

Now for what we’ve all been waiting for! What most people don’t realize is that kidney stents come in different sizes as well as lengths,[5] therefore ensuring correct size selection becomes very important.[6] Your urologist will use measurements taken during imaging studies so rest assured that discomfort won’t occur since there’s already likely quite enough pain from other things happening down there…

Once THE tube has properly situated inside, it needs with also become more flappy b/c its found what ‘feels’ right regarding movement . In most cases,[7](Yay!!)the procedure might last from thirty minutes up until an hour long depending on how slimy/curvy/tight one’s innards are.

Recovery Period

Well friends, after surgery holds an array of feelings ranging anywhere and everywhere between relief and minor irritations along with general malaise associated with any invasive surgery. Most reports indicate :
Feeling soreness around genital/urethral areas during urination
Cramping or a sense of urgency to pee all the time
A bit of blood in urine and/or discharge from urethra.

Though unpleasant, these symptoms are temporary and would disappear as your body gets used to the new inhabitant.

In Conclusion

Let’s face it; when it comes to kidney stents, everyone’s main question is “what exactly is going on downstairs?” Knowing this procedure (kinda) inside out might help put you at ease before walking into that operating room.


[1] A sizeable diameter!
[2] These can be unwanted side effects from being under surgery.
[3] Lithotomy positioning refers to a position where your legs will be propped up with stirrups holding them apart – getting gynecological vibes anyone?
[4] Minus minus no tips tho😛
[5] Anways…size matters! It fits better if sized apropos.
[6] Mini or micro surgeon extraordinaire ?
[7][7]: Thank goodness for small miracles !

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