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Female Incontinence Procedures

Open Artificial Sphincter Implant

Stress urinary incontinence is the leakage of urine while laughing, coughing or sneezing, and is caused due to weak sphincter muscles that fail to control the bladder. Stress urinary incontinence can be treated with artificial inflatable sphincters. The artificial sphincter consists of 3 parts:

  • Cuff: controls urine flow through the urethra
  • Balloon: regulates pressure in the cuff
  • Pump: inflates the cuff

The procedure of Sphincter Implantation

The implantation of the artificial sphincter is carried out under general or spinal anaesthesia. Your surgeon makes incisions in the labia and lower abdomen to insert the artificial sphincter. First, the cuff is inserted through the labia cut and placed around the urethra. The balloon is then positioned below the abdominal tissue and the pump is placed underneath the skin in the woman's lower belly or leg. The inflated cuff squeezes the urethra closed and prevents the leakage of urine from the bladder. When you feel the urge to urinate, you can deflate the cuff by squeezing the pump. This transfers fluid from the cuff into the balloon and releases the pressure around the urethra. The cuff re-inflates on its own in 90 seconds.

Implantation of the sphincter is generally safe, but like all surgeries, the procedure may be associated with certain side effects, such as damage to the bladder, vagina and urethra, difficulties in emptying the bladder, infection, wearing out of the device and failure of the procedure.

There are alternate minimally invasive/laparoscopic procedures that can be availed of. The open artificial sphincter implant is restricted to selected cases only. Your surgeon will discuss your options with you based on your particular medical history.

Related Topics

  • Mater Health
  • ANZ Vulvovaginal Society