Ureteric stents: investigating flow and encrustation.
Waters SL., Heaton K., Siggers JH., Bayston R., Bishop M., Cummings LJ., Grant DM., Oliver JM., Wattis JAD.
Blockages of the ureter, e.g. due to calculi (kidney stones), can result in an increase in renal pelvic pressure. This may be relieved by inserting a stent (essentially a permeable hollow tube). However, a number of complications are associated with stent use. Stents can result in reflux (backflow of urine along the ureter), which will promote recurrent urinary infection and possible renal parenchymal damage. Furthermore, long-term stent use is associated with infection and precipitation of salts from the urine, which can lead to a build-up of crystalline deposits on the stent surface, making stent removal difficult and painful. This paper examines factors governing urine flow in a stented ureter, the implications for reflux, and the processes by which the stent surface encrusts, in particular focusing on the influence of bacterial infection. An interdisciplinary approach is adopted, involving a combination of theoretical investigations and novel experiments.