The kidneys connect to the bladder with a small tube called a ureter. Some medical conditions, such as kidney stones, can cause an obstruction in the kidney or the ureter. Kidney stents, also called ureteral stents, are thin, flexible, hollow tubes placed into the ureter to bypass the obstruction and allow the passage of urine. One end of the stent opens into the kidney and the other end opens into the bladder. The stent is not permanent—the urologist removes it after the obstruction is resolved. The procedure is relatively safe, but some side effects or complications may occur.
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The most common side effects associated with a kidney stent are urinary-related. The individual might feel an increased need to urinate. The frequent need could also feel urgent. Blood can be visible in the urine. After urination, the urge to urinate might not subside. According to the Bristol Urological Institute, these symptoms improve after stent removal.
After placing the stent, the kidney may bleed. The bladder might bleed a small amount, as well. The bleeding is due to the irritation caused by the stent placement and usually resolves quickly. On rare occasions, the bleeding could be severe, requiring surgery to repair the damage.
The stent can sometimes move out of its position. The tube may coil in the kidney or in the bladder. If the stent migrates and punctures through the wall of the bladder or ureter, additional organs in the pelvis could experience damage. Surgery is required to repair the damage.
The placement of the kidney stent might cause an infection. The kidney is the most common location for a stent-related infection. According to the Royal College of Radiologists, antibiotics are usually effective in treating the kidney infection.
A urethral stent can cause pain or discomfort in the bladder or in the kidney. Kidney pain is often felt in the back or on the side.