An inflatable artificial sphincter is used to treat stress incontinence when the urinary sphincter fails to work properly. It is implanted in the lower urinary tract to provide control of urine flow.
This device is used only for people with complete or nearly complete loss of function of the urinary sphincter. This procedure may be performed to treat stress incontinence in men after prostate surgery, such as radical prostatectomy. It may also be performed in men and women with sphincter dysfunction due to spinal cord injury or multiple sclerosis.
This device is not used for urinary incontinence due to other causes. It is not used in people with very low volume bladders, and those with blockages of the urethra. This device is not suitable for those who have had extensive radiation therapy to the pelvis.
In men, the artificial urinary sphincter is placed through a cut made between the scrotum and anus. A smaller incision is made in the groin for implanting the reservoir. Antibiotics are used to prevent urinary tract infections. The procedure usually takes between 2 and 4 hours.
In women, the device can be implanted either through a cut in the lower abdomen or through the vagina. Postoperative management is similar to that for men.
Professional Guide to Diseases, Sixth Edition. Springhouse: Springhouse Corporation, 1998.
The Merck Manual of Medical Information, Home edition, 1997