Artificial Sphincter: Stop The Leaks

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Urinary incontinence is something that happens to many different people and at all different ages. It can come in the form of small leaks when sneezing, coughing or laughing or in more severe instances where a sudden urge to urinate comes and you don’t have time to make it to the bathroom.For men, one potential solution to urinary in continence is the Artificial Sphincter. This option is commonly used for men who have had some type of prostate surgery. One reason is that prostate removal can sometimes lead to urinary incontinence.When does an Artificial Sphincter become a viable option?Before this device is recommended, it’s most common for doctors to attempt other medical therapies, including:Behavioral techniques – One type is bladder training, in which you try to hold off on urination after getting the urge for a few minutes longer, gradually increasing that amount of time.Exercises for your pelvic floor – These are also referred to as Kegel exercises, in which you practice tightening and then relaxing the pelvic floor muscles. Over time, you can learn to better control the muscles responsible for managing urination.Medications – There are a variety of medications that can be prescribed to treat urinary incontinence, each approaching the issue from a slightly different direction.Once you have exhausted all of the non-invasive treatment options, you can then consider surgical procedures.What is an Artificial Sphincter and how do it work?This is a plastic device that is inserted into the pelvic area, consisting of:An inflatable cuff that fits around the urethra close to the point where it joins the bladderA water-filled reservoir that sits above the pubic boneA pump controlling inflation and deflation of the cuff located in the scrotumIn a very simple way, the cuff is inflated to prevent urine leakage and deflated to allow urine flow. This is done manually by the patient each time he wishes to urinate.Are there any risk factors?The commonly known complications to a surgery such as artificial sphincter are:Erosion of the device through the tissue of the sphincter placementFailure of the device over timeAn infection that develops in the artificial sphincterThere are a variety of factors considered when determining which approach is best for each patient. If you are experiencing urinary incontinence or would more information on it or artificial sphincters, consult with your physician. *The Urology Team has qualified and experienced doctors at three convenient locations in the Austin area. Contact us today for any of your needs. It’s the uro-logical choice!