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Treating Male Incontinence With an Artificial Sphincter

Some men may eliminate urine leakage with an artificial sphincter, an implanted device that keeps the urethra closed until you are ready to urinate. This device can help people who have incontinence because of weak sphincter muscles or because of nerve damage that interferes with sphincter muscle function. However, it does not solve incontinence caused by uncontrolled bladder contractions.
Surgery to place the artificial sphincter requires general or spinal anesthesia. The device has three parts, which include:
  • A cuff that fits around the urethra
  • A small balloon reservoir placed in the abdomen (stomach)
  • A pump placed in the scrotum.
The cuff is filled with liquid that makes it fit tightly around the urethra to prevent urine from leaking. When it is time to urinate, you squeeze the pump with your fingers to deflate the cuff so that the liquid moves to the balloon reservoir and urine can flow through the urethra. When your bladder is empty, the cuff automatically refills in the next two to five minutes to keep the urethra tightly closed.

The Male Sling

Surgery can improve some types of urinary incontinence in men. In a sling procedure, the surgeon creates a support for the urethra by wrapping a strip of material around it and attaching the ends of the strip to the pelvic bone. The sling keeps constant pressure on the urethra so that it does not open until the man consciously releases the urine.

Urinary Diversion as a Male Incontinence Treatment

If the bladder must be removed or all bladder function is lost because of nerve damage, you may consider surgery to create a urinary diversion. In this procedure, the surgeon creates a reservoir by removing a piece of the small intestine and directing the ureters (ducts that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder) to the reservoir.
The surgeon also creates a stoma, which is an opening on the lower abdomen (stomach) where the urine can be drained through a catheter or into a bag.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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