Artificial Urinary Sphincters Vs. Other Urinary Incontinence Treatment Options

Urinary incontinence affects millions of men and women worldwide. Whether it begins after surgical treatment, with age, or due to a neurological disorder, this condition can decrease your quality of life tremendously. Since many urinary incontinence treatment options exist, it may be hard to choose the right one for your needs.

Before you schedule a consultation with a urologist, consider taking the time to explore the available choices. One of the most common treatment methods is an artificial urinary sphincter (AUS). Understanding how it works and comparing it to other options can help you make an educated decision.

Artificial Urinary Sphincters (AUS)

The artificial urinary sphincter mimics the natural function of the urinary sphincter muscle. It consists of three components:

  • A cuff that encircles the urethra
  • A pressure-regulating balloon placed in the abdomen
  • Control pump in the scrotum or labia

When you need to urinate, you press the control pump to deflate the cuff so the urine can flow. After urination, the cuff automatically inflates to prevent leakage.

The surgical procedure for AUS implantation involves implanting the cuff and pressure-regulating balloon in the body. It’s performed under general anesthesia.

Around 80% of people who take advantage of AUS see a reduction in symptoms of urinary incontinence.

Other Urinary Incontinence Treatments

While AUS is an effective treatment option, you can also benefit from other approaches.  Some of them are:

Non-surgical Options 

  • Lifestyle modifications – managing fluid intake, avoiding bladder irritants like caffeine and alcohol, and maintaining a healthy weight
  • Medications – anticholinergic drugs and alpha blockers to relax the bladder muscles and hormones to improve the work of the urethral sphincter
  • Behavioral therapies – bladder training, pelvic floor exercises, and urge suppression strategies

Surgical Alternatives

  • Male sling procedures – placing a sling around the urethra to move it to another position
  • Urethral bulking agents – injectable materials to strengthen tissues surrounding the urethra so it can closer better
  • Other surgical interventions – bladder neck suspension, sacral nerve stimulation, posterior tibial nerve stimulation, or urinary diversion

Comparing Effectiveness and Patient Considerations 

AUS demonstrates high success rates in treating urinary incontinence, especially for patients with severe stress urinary incontinence and intrinsic sphincter deficiency. However, compared to non-surgical options, AUS implantation involves surgical risks such as infection and devise erosion.

While non-surgical treatments may provide symptom relief, the effectiveness of these options can vary depending on many factors. The main considerations include the cause of the condition, the age of the patient, and the severity of the incontinence.

Another important factor to think about is treatment costs. For example, AUS implantation may involve higher initial costs but could lead to long-term savings on ongoing symptom management.

Surgical treatments usually provide faster relief than non-surgical alternatives do. While recovery time is involved, they allow you to return to daily activities with confidence. Non-surgical options often involve lifestyle modifications that may not always be suitable.

Patient Selection and Suitability

While each treatment option has its pros and cons, the final decision is up to the urologist and the patient. Your doctor will evaluate all the factors, including:

  • Medical history
  • The severity of the condition
  • Your lifestyle preferences

The key to achieving success with urinary continence treatment is a personalized approach to each patient. What works well for one person may not fix the problem for another, and vice versa.

Find Incontinence Treatment in Middle Tennessee 

Artificial urinary sphincters have a high success rate. However, other surgical and non-surgical options can prove to be viable alternatives. To find the best treatment for your needs, you need a personalized approach from a qualified medical professional.

At Incontinence Institute, we have a team of experienced urologists who have helped hundreds of patients with urinary incontinence improve their quality of life. To take advantage of their expertise, get in touch with our medical concierge today.