Kidney Stent: What to Expect and How to Manage

Jun 17, 2024 | 4 min read

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A kidney stent is a flexible, small tube placed in the ureter to keep urine flowing from the kidney to the bladder. Understanding side effects, timing, and useful tips for sleeping can help manage discomfort and ensure a smoother recovery.

What is a kidney stent?

A kidney stent is a small, flexible tube inserted into the ureter, the duct connecting the kidney to the bladder. This stent helps ensure urine flows properly from the kidney to the bladder, especially when there are blockages or after certain surgeries.

It alleviates pressure on the kidney, preventing potential damage by maintaining a clear urine pathway. Stents are typically made of soft, flexible materials that allow them to stay in place without causing significant discomfort.

Causes for needing a kidney stent include:

  • Kidney stones: Large stones can block the ureter, requiring a stent to keep the urine flowing. According to the NCBI publication, approximately 1 in 10 people will develop kidney stones in their lifetime.
  • Surgery: Procedures on the urinary tract or kidney might necessitate a stent to aid healing.
  • Tumors: Growths in the urinary tract can obstruct urine flow, and a stent can help bypass these blockages.
  • Scarring: Injury or previous surgeries can cause scar tissue, leading to ureteral narrowing.
  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs): Severe or recurrent infections might result in swelling that obstructs urine flow.

These are common reasons a healthcare provider might recommend placing a kidney stent.

What are the side effects of a kidney stent?

Side effects of a kidney stent can vary from mild to more noticeable. Common side effects include:

  • Frequent urination: The presence of the stent can irritate the bladder, causing a frequent need to urinate.
  • Persistent urge to urinate: You might feel a constant urge to urinate, even when the bladder isn't full.
  • Discomfort or pain: Some discomfort or pain might be felt in the bladder or kidney areas, especially during urination.
  • Blood in the urine: It's common to notice a small amount of blood in the urine, which usually diminishes over time.
  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs): The stent can increase the risk of developing a UTI, characterized by pain, burning during urination, and fever.
  • Bladder spasms: Some patients may experience spasms or cramps in the bladder.

These side effects are generally temporary and can often be managed with the advice and support of your healthcare provider.

Symptoms of kidney stent complications

Kidney stents are generally safe, but complications can occur. It's important to be aware of the symptoms that may indicate complications:

  • Severe pain: Intense pain in the lower back, abdomen, or groin might suggest a complication.
  • High fever or chills: These can indicate an infection, which needs immediate medical attention.
  • Persistent blood in urine: While some blood is normal, continuous heavy bleeding is a concern.
  • Difficulty urinating: Trouble in passing urine or a complete inability to urinate requires prompt evaluation.
  • Severe bladder spasms: Intense spasms or cramps that are disruptive might signal an issue.
  • Abnormal discharge: Unusual discharge from the urinary tract can be a sign of infection or other complications.

If you experience any of these symptoms, it's important to contact your healthcare provider immediately for further assessment and management.

Can you have sex with a kidney stent?

Yes, you can have sex with a kidney stent, but it might be uncomfortable. It is generally safe to resume sexual activity a few days after the stent placement

It's important to listen to your body and avoid any activities that cause pain. Some people might feel discomfort in the bladder or kidney area during or after intercourse. 

Communicate openly with your partner and go slowly to avoid sudden movements that might aggravate discomfort. 

If pain or other issues arise, discuss them with your healthcare provider to ensure there are no complications or underlying issues that need to be addressed.

How to sleep with a kidney stent?

Sleeping with a kidney stent can be challenging due to the discomfort it may cause. Here are some detailed tips to help you rest more comfortably:

  • Choose a comfortable position: Try sleeping on your back or on the side opposite to the stent to reduce pressure.
  • Use pillows: Place extra pillows around your body for added support and to help reduce discomfort.
  • Pain management: Follow your doctor's recommendations for pain relief to minimize nighttime discomfort.
  • Empty your bladder: Urinate before going to bed to reduce the need for nighttime bathroom trips.
  • Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water during the day but limit fluid intake in the evening to avoid frequent urination at night.
  • Relaxation techniques: Practice relaxation exercises, such as deep breathing or meditation, before sleep to help you relax and fall asleep more easily.
  • Avoid heavy meals and caffeine: Eating light and avoiding stimulants before bed can improve your overall sleep quality.

If sleeping becomes very difficult, talk to your healthcare provider for additional advice and support.

Recovery time for kidney stone removal with stent

Recovery time after kidney stone removal with a stent can vary. Generally, most people start feeling better within a few days to a week. Here’s what to expect:

  • Initial recovery: The first few days may involve some discomfort and pain, which can be managed with prescribed medications.
  • Activity levels: You can usually return to light activities within a few days but avoid strenuous activities for at least a week.
  • Follow-up appointments: Attend all follow-up appointments to ensure proper healing and stent function.
  • Stent removal: The stent is typically removed within a few weeks after the procedure, which is usually a quick and simple process.
  • Full recovery: Complete recovery, including resumption of all normal activities, can take a few weeks depending on individual health conditions and the complexity of the procedure.

Always follow your doctor’s specific instructions to ensure a smooth and speedy recovery.

How to relieve kidney pain after stent removal?

Experiencing kidney pain after stent removal is common. Here are some tips to help relieve the discomfort:

  • Pain management: Take prescribed pain medications as directed by your healthcare provider to alleviate pain.
  • Hydration: Drink plenty of water to help flush out any remaining debris in the urinary tract and reduce irritation.
  • Warm compress: Apply a warm compress or heating pad to the affected area to help soothe muscle spasms and discomfort.
  • Rest: Ensure you get plenty of rest to allow your body to heal and recover after the stent removal.
  • Avoid strenuous activities: Limit physical activities and avoid heavy lifting to prevent aggravating the pain.
  • Follow-up care: Attend all follow-up appointments with your healthcare provider to monitor your recovery and address any persistent issues.
  • Over-the-counter pain relief: Use over-the-counter pain relievers, like acetaminophen, as recommended by your doctor to manage mild pain.

If the pain persists or worsens, contact your healthcare provider for further evaluation and guidance.

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