Your urinary sphincter is the muscle that keeps urine from flowing freely from your bladder. An artificial urinary sphincter is a medical device that is designed to treat incontinence by working in place of your urinary sphincter to keep your urethra closed until you are ready to urinate. The device, which is surgically implanted in the pelvic region, includes three parts:
- An inflatable cuff (the cuff remains inflated until you want to urinate, at which time you manually deflate it)
- A balloon that holds the liquid used to inflate the cuff
- A pump to deflate the cuff
An artificial urinary sphincter is sometimes the treatment of choice for men with urinary incontinence due to weak sphincter muscles or prostate removal, or for men with severe stress incontinence for which other treatments have failed. This type of surgery will not treat male incontinence that is caused by uncontrolled bladder spasms (urge incontinence).
The Artificial Urinary Sphincter Procedure
Before surgery, you will either be given a medication through an IV line that will put you to sleep, or you will be given a spinal anesthetic to numb you from the waist down. The cuff will be surgically placed around your sphincter, the balloon will go under your belly muscles, and the pump will be placed in your scrotum.
How an Artificial Urinary Sphincter Works
Once your artificial sphincter is in place, the fluid in the cuff will keep you from urinating until you are ready. When you are ready to urinate, you will use the pump to deflate the cuff, after which your urine will flow freely. When you are finished urinating, the fluid will automatically flow back from the balloon into the cuff (within about 90 seconds).
Complications of Artificial Urinary Sphincter Surgery
Risks of artificial sphincter surgery may include:
- Bleeding from the surgical site
- Bruising and swelling
- Damage to the bladder or urethra
- Blood clots
- Mechanical failure (about 40% of men will need a second surgery after 10 years)
Artificial Urinary Sphincter Surgery Effectiveness
Artificial urinary sphincter surgery is successful for the majority of men with incontinence following prostate surgery. Most men also say they are satisfied with the results of the procedure.
For more information on artificial urinary sphincter, contact Leroy Jones, MD, urology specialist of San Antonio, Texas.