While the exact number may vary based on definition, data suggests that roughly 13 million people experience urinary incontinence. This condition causes you to leak urine involuntarily and significantly impacts your life.
Fortunately, urinary incontinence is not something you have to fight alone, as various treatment options can help address the condition. One such solution may be an Artificial Urinary Sphincter (AUS).
What Is an Artificial Urinary Sphincter (AUS)?
When it comes to controlling when and where you urinate, the body has a circular, muscular structure called the sphincter that regulates the release of urine from the bladder.
Designed to mimic the sphincter’s functionality, an AUS is a small implantable device that restores your control over the bladder.
To effectively perform its functions, an artificial urinary sphincter has several components working in tandem. These components include a cuff, a pump, and a reservoir, all working together to replicate the sphincter’s function.
Benefits of Using an Artificial Urinary Sphincter
Beyond causing UTI infections and skin problems, urinary incontinence can have significant psychological and social impacts, leading to isolation, depression, and anxiety.
Fortunately, an AUS offers several benefits that help address these challenges:
- Effectiveness: Artificial urinary sphincters have high success rates in resolving incontinence issues, and the device typically lasts for many years.
- Improved Quality of Life: Choosing AUS can restore confidence, enhance comfort, reduce urinary accidents, and reduce reliance on pads.
- Adjustability: One of the unique advantages of AUS is its adjustability, allowing users to customize the device’s pressure for individual comfort and effectiveness.
- Safety Profile: There’s an established history of using the device, and continuous improvements have made the procedure safer and more reliable over time.
Risks and Potential Complications of AUS
However, like any medical procedure, AUS is not without its potential drawbacks and risks.
- Surgical Risks: The implantation of AUS involves surgery, which carries the possibility of infection, bleeding, and anesthesia complications.
- Device Malfunctions: While rare, AUS can experience mechanical failures over time.
- Erosion or Tissue Damage: There is a slight risk of the device causing wear and tear on surrounding tissues.
- Need for Revisions or Replacements: As with any medical device, there’s a lifespan to consider, which may lead to future surgeries for modifications or replacements.
- Cost and Insurance Considerations: Knowing the potential out-of-pocket costs and the variability in insurance coverage for AUS is important.
Who is a Candidate for AUS?
With as common as urinary incontinence is, and the number of treatment options available, getting an AUS may not be suitable for everyone. While an AUS device is often considered for individuals with severe urinary incontinence, you’ll want to discuss your candidacy with a physician to determine whether other treatment options would be more appropriate.
In understanding your current symptoms, severity, treatment history, and current health of the bladder, a healthcare professional will comprehensively evaluate your options.
Alternatives to AUS
Before settling on an AUS, it’s essential to consider if other treatment options may be more suitable for you. Such medical interventions to consider include:
- Other Surgical Options: There are alternative surgical procedures, such as bladder sling procedures and the use of bulking agents, that can address urinary incontinence.
- Non-Surgical Treatments: Non-surgical options include medications and pelvic floor exercises, which may suit some individuals.
Making the Right Choice
Dealing with urinary incontinence is challenging and can significantly impact your life. We understand that finding a solution is at the top of your priority list. The Incontinence Institute is here to guide you every step of the way. Contact our medical concierge to learn more about artificial urinary sphincters and schedule an appointment with a physician.