An artificial sphincter is a device made of silicone rubber that is used to treat urinary incontinence.
An artificial sphincter has an inflatable cuff that fits around the urethra close to the point where it joins the bladder. A balloon regulates the pressure of the cuff, and a bulb controls inflation and deflation of the cuff. The balloon is surgically placed within the pelvic area, and the control pump is placed in the scrotum.
The cuff is inflated to keep urine from leaking. When urination is desired, the cuff is deflated, allowing urine to drain out.
Because these procedures involve abdominal surgery, hospitalization is required.
You will most likely be able to leave the hospital the day after having the surgery.
Installation of an artificial sphincter may be done for:
Artificial sphincter placement is a successful treatment for up to 9 out of 10 men who have incontinence after prostate removal. And more than 9 out of 10 men are happy with the artificial sphincter.1
Complications with this type of surgery include needing another surgery, or revision. After 10 years, about 6 out of 10 men need to have another surgery.1 Other risks include bruising and swelling after the surgery and infection.
Because complications may occur, this is a treatment method that generally is reserved for people for whom all other treatment options have failed. Some people may prefer to manage their symptoms with continence products (such as absorbent pads, incontinence clamps, or pressure cuffs) and changes in habits rather than to have this surgery.
Last Revised: July 8, 2010
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