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Ureter Stent Replacement at Our Los Angeles Center

Patients with damaged, diseased or chronically obstructed ureters typically undergo a ureteroscopy to identify and treat this problem. Stents (small, flexible tubes) may be placed in one or both ureters to direct the flow of urine from the kidneys into the bladder or an external drainage bag. A stent used for the ureter can be up to 12 inches in length but has a very narrow diameter of less than a quarter of an inch. These stents can help ensure that the ureters stay open and bypass leaking areas. Unfortunately, these prosthetic devices don’t have a lifetime warranty. They must be replaced every three to six months. Otherwise, they may develop small cracks or a buildup of minerals and other materials that can eventually block the interior of the stent. This encrustation can occur even faster in patients who tend to develop kidney stones.

Importance of Regular Stent Replacements

A skilled urologist can replace stents carefully and precisely in a very short outpatient procedure. It makes a lot more sense to go in for this quick treatment than it does to skip or delay it. Patients who do not keep up with their scheduled stent replacements eventually experience complications. These can include blockage of the stent and urinary tract infections that may cause kidney damage. A stent that is placed temporarily can generally be removed easily in a physician’s office if it has a thread attached. However, a stent that is designed for long term use and that will be replaced with a new one is designed differently. A ureteroscope is required for the removal of a long term stent because of the coiled ends that help it stay in place better by anchoring it in the kidney and bladder.

Benefits of the Stent Replacement Procedure

This is still a minimally invasive procedure, just like the original stent placement. The new stent is simply inserted in the same visit when the old one is removed. This procedure gives the urologist the opportunity to look for any signs of infection, erosion, stones, growths or other problems that require further treatment. This is also an ideal opportunity to check on the progress of healing in the urinary tract. Based on the results of this evaluation, a new stent might not needed. For patients who experience ongoing discomfort from their stent, this is good news (and another reason to keep that appointment).

Patients who do require stent replacement and those who have their stent removed permanently should continue to drink plenty of water every day. This dilutes the urine and reduces the chances of infection and blockage in the future.

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