We’ve started an investigation relating to patients with kidney stones who have had a ureteric stent inserted and where the stent is left in longer than planned.

A ureteric stent is a thin plastic tube that’s inserted into the ureter (the tube that connects the kidney to the bladder). The stent helps urine to drain from the kidney into the bladder by keeping the ureter open. Blockages are commonly caused by kidney stones and stones in the ureter (ureteric stones). Stents can be used to prevent these blockages, or to assist fragments of stone to drain away after treatment.

Ureteric stents are usually left in place for between a few days and three months, depending on why it has been inserted. When planning how long to leave the stent in place, the risk of the stent becoming blocked is considered, as they can become encrusted with the same deposits that form kidney stones.

Reference event

The investigation was launched after concerns were reported to HSIB by a senior consultant urologist at a large hospital with a specialist kidney stone service. They reported an increase in patients needing surgical removal of encrusted stents due to delays in the routine removal of their ureteric stents.

Investigation summary

This investigation will:

  • Look at how ureteric stents are tracked following insertion.
  • Examine patient communication strategies.
  • Explore the reasons for delays in stent removal.
  • Review clinical practice.

Safety recommendations

As part of our final investigation report we will make safety recommendations to the appropriate national bodies in order to improve patient safety.

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