What is an artificial urinary sphincter and why would you need one? If you are experiencing stress incontinence issues, this treatment option could be a game changer for you.
Urinary incontinence is a problem for both men and women where you cannot control when and how much you urinate. It is both embarrassing and frustrating.
Your urinary sphincter is a muscle that controls the flow of urine out of your bladder. When it’s closed, it blocks the opening of your bladder and urine cannot leak. Normally your urinary sphincter stays contracted until you want to urinate. When you relax your sphincter, urine can leave your bladder and flow through the urethra.
When you have trouble controlling your urinary sphincter, urine can leak. For men this might occur after surgery to remove the prostate gland or after radiation therapy. For men and women it can happen when you sneeze, cough, or laugh.
An artificial urinary sphincter can be implanted to replace the natural one. It is mostly performed on men who have severe urinary incontinence.
How Does an Artificial Urinary Sphincter Work?
An Artificial Urinary Sphincter, or AUS, is a device considered the gold standard treatment for men with severe stress urinary incontinence. It contains an inflatable cuff around the tube that leads from your bladder out of your body, known as the urethra. There is a hand-operated pump to release the cuff and allow urine to pass through.
The hand pump is in the scrotum. Squeezing the pump will allow the cuff to open for 2 to 3 minutes allowing you to urinate. It will close automatically.
The procedure to implant the device is performed under general anesthesia, and you normally go home the next day. You should avoid driving, consuming alcohol, heavy meals, and operating heavy machinery for at least 24 hours. Dr. Allen Morey will provide a list of post-operative instructions.
Benefits and Risks of an Artificial Urinary Sphincter
As the gold standard treatment for men with severe stress incontinence, AUS has multiple benefits:
- Artificial urinary sphincters have been highly successful in resolving incontinence.
- AUS lasts many years.
- Patients have an improved quality of life.
- Patients have the ability to adjust the device to suit their comfort.
- The procedure is safe and reliable.
Any surgical procedure has its risks. Malfunction, infection, bleeding, anesthesia complications, and a limited device lifespan are all important factors to consider before proceeding.