Artificial Urinary Sphincter

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Learn More about Artificial Urinary
Sphincters and How They Can Help
Keep Urine Flow Under Control

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Urinary incontinence can be managed with an artificial urinary sphincter.

The urinary sphincter constricts the urethra to keep urine from being released from the bladder. When an individual is ready to urinate, this sphincter relaxes to allow urine to flow through the urethra and out of the body.

  • An artificial urinary sphincter may be necessary to replace a natural urinary sphincter that is not functioning properly.
  • This device is used to keep urine flow more under control.

How It Works

An artificial sphincter is a device that is made up of three parts. The inflatable cuff, typically made out of silicone rubber, is placed around the urethra close to where it meets the bladder. A very small balloon is filled with fluid and provides control for the pressure required for the sphincter to work properly, which is placed in the pelvic region.

A small bulb acts as a control pump to allow for manual inflation or deflation of the cuff. This pump is generally placed in the scrotum in men and the mons veneris in women. The individual can use the pump to release pressure from the urethral cuff when it is time to urinate. These pumps will typically allow the cuff to remain open for a set amount of time before automatically re-inflating the cuff to close off the flow of urine.

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Who Is a Candidate?

An artificial urinary sphincter is regularly used to treat certain types of incontinence, such as for stress incontinence or urge incontinence. An individual may also require the placement of an artificial sphincter due to urinary problems caused by damage resulting from medical conditions such as cancer, a neurological condition, childbirth, or menopause.

An individual may also benefit from the placement of an artificial urinary sphincter due to incontinence caused by surgical treatments. When more conservative methods of treatment fail to provide relief, an artificial sphincter may be considered as long as the patient has no other medical problems that affect the urethra or the bladder.

What to Expect

The placement of an artificial sphincter requires surgery. Because the patient will be given anesthesia, avoidance of foods and beverages may be required for several hours before the procedure. One or two incisions will be made, either in the lower abdomen, the scrotum, or the labia, in order to place the device. An overnight stay is often required with this type of surgery. The physician will provide patient care instructions following the procedure. It can take 6 to 8 weeks of healing before the specialist will activate the device so that the individual can begin using it. The physician will provide the necessary instructions for use and care of the device. The artificial urinary sphincter has about a 90% satisfaction rate.

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