Purpose: Ureteral stents are commonly placed after ureteroscopy. Although studies indicate that stents are associated with patient discomfort, their impact on downstream health services use is unclear. We examined patterns of stent utilization in Michigan and their association with unplanned health care encounters.
Materials and methods: We used the Michigan Urological Surgery Improvement Collaborative's Reducing Operative Complications from Kidney Stones (MUSIC ROCKS) clinical registry to identify ureteroscopy cases between 2016 and 2019. Factors associated with stent placement were examined using bivariate and multivariable statistics. Using multivariable logistic regression, we evaluated whether stent placement was associated with emergency department visits and hospitalizations within 30 days.
Results: We identified 9,662 ureteroscopies and a stent was placed in 7,025 (73%) of these. Frequency of stent use across the 137 urologists varied (11%-100%, p <0.001) and was not associated with total case volume. Factors associated with stent use included age and stone size. Pre-stented cases and renal stones had a decreased odds of stent placement. On multivariable analysis after adjusting for risk factors, stent placement was associated with a 1.25 higher odds of emergency department visit (OR 1.25, 95% CI 1.01-1.54, p=0.043) but not hospitalization (OR 1.28, 95% CI 0.94-1.76, p=0.12). In a single high volume practice, 0.5% of cases that omitted a stent required urgent stenting postoperatively.
Conclusions: There is substantial variation in the use of stents in Michigan, irrespective of case volume. Stent placement significantly increased the odds of an emergency department visit after surgery. Importantly, stent omission rarely required subsequent urgent stent placement.
Keywords: emergency service, hospital; stents; ureter; ureteroscopy; urinary calculi.