Artificial Urinary Sphincter: Treatment for Complete Urinary Leakage

Urinary leakage, particularly when it reaches the point of complete loss of control, is more than just a physical inconvenience, it can profoundly affect every aspect of a person’s life. From the constant worry about accidents to the limitations on social activities, the impact of urinary incontinence can be overwhelming. However, amidst these challenges, there shines a beacon of hope: the Artificial Urinary Sphincter (AUS). This innovative medical device has emerged as a transformative solution for individuals grappling with complete urinary leakage, offering a renewed sense of control and dignity. In this blog, we’ll explore the significance of AUS as a treatment, its mechanism of action, its benefits, and the transformative impact it has on the lives of those living with urinary incontinence. Let’s delve into the world of AUS and discover how it is revolutionizing the management of complete urinary leakage.

Understanding Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence is a prevalent medical condition characterized by the involuntary loss of urine, often leading to significant distress and impairment in one’s quality of life. It affects individuals of all ages, genders, and backgrounds, though it becomes more common with age. To comprehend urinary incontinence fully, it’s essential to explore its types, causes, risk factors, symptoms, and the impact it has on affected individuals.

Types of Urinary Incontinence

Stress Incontinence: This type of incontinence occurs when there is pressure on the bladder, leading to leakage of urine. Activities such as coughing, sneezing, laughing, or lifting heavy objects can trigger urine leakage in individuals with stress incontinence. It is commonly associated with weakened pelvic floor muscles, often observed in women after childbirth or individuals who have undergone pelvic surgery.

Urge Incontinence: Also known as overactive bladder, urge incontinence involves a sudden, intense urge to urinate, followed by involuntary bladder contractions and urine leakage. Individuals with urge incontinence may experience frequent urination, especially at night (nocturia), and may struggle to reach the bathroom in time. Neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, or spinal cord injuries can contribute to urge incontinence.

Overflow Incontinence: Overflow incontinence occurs when the bladder doesn’t empty, leading to constant dribbling of urine. It may result from bladder obstruction, weak bladder muscles, or nerve damage. Individuals with overflow incontinence often experience difficulty initiating urination and may feel as though their bladder is never fully empty.

Functional Incontinence: This type of incontinence is not directly related to bladder dysfunction but rather to physical or cognitive impairments that hinder a person’s ability to reach the toilet in time. Conditions such as arthritis, dementia, or mobility issues can contribute to functional incontinence.

Mixed Incontinence: Mixed incontinence refers to a combination of two or more types of urinary incontinence, often involving stress and urge incontinence. It presents unique challenges in management and treatment.

What is the Artificial Urinary Sphincter (AUS)?

The Artificial Urinary Sphincter (AUS) is a sophisticated medical device designed to address urinary incontinence, particularly in cases where other treatments have been ineffective. It offers a revolutionary solution for individuals suffering from complete urinary leakage, providing them with improved bladder control and quality of life.

Components of the AUS
The AUS consists of three main components

Cuff: The cuff is a fluid-filled silicone ring that encircles the urethra. It acts as a valve, controlling the flow of urine from the bladder. When inflated, the cuff compresses the urethra, preventing urine leakage. The cuff is surgically placed around the urethra during the implantation procedure.

Pressure-Regulating Balloon: The pressure-regulating balloon serves as a reservoir for the fluid used to inflate and deflate the cuff. It is typically implanted in the lower abdomen. The balloon is connected to the cuff via tubing, allowing for the transfer of fluid to adjust the cuff’s pressure.

Pump: The pump is a small, discreet device implanted in the scrotum for men or the labia for women. It enables the user to manually inflate or deflate the cuff as needed. By activating the pump, the user can release pressure from the cuff, allowing urine to flow freely through the urethra.

Mechanism of Action
The AUS functions by replicating the natural sphincter mechanism responsible for controlling urine flow. When the user needs to urinate, they activate the pump to deflate the cuff, allowing urine to pass through the urethra and out of the body. Once voiding is complete, the user activates the pump again to reinflate the cuff, restoring continence by compressing the urethra and preventing further leakage.

Implantation Procedure
The implantation of the AUS is performed surgically by a urologist experienced in the procedure. It typically involves three key steps:

Placement of the Cuff: The surgeon places the cuff around the urethra and secures it in position. The cuff is positioned such that it can effectively compress the urethra when inflated.

Implantation of the Pump: The pump is implanted in either the scrotum or the labia, depending on the patient’s anatomy. The pump is connected to the cuff via tubing, allowing for the transfer of fluid to adjust the cuff’s pressure.

Placement of the Pressure-Regulating Balloon: The pressure-regulating balloon is implanted in the lower abdomen and connected to the cuff and pump via tubing. The balloon serves as a reservoir for the fluid used to inflate and deflate the cuff.

Adjustability and Customization
One of the significant advantages of the AUS is its adjustability. The pressure within the cuff can be customized to meet the individual’s specific needs and preferences. This adjustability ensures optimal control over urinary continence while minimizing the risk of complications such as urinary retention or over-compression of the urethra.

Effectiveness and Long-Term Outcomes
Numerous clinical studies have demonstrated the effectiveness and long-term success of the AUS in managing urinary incontinence. The device offers reliable control over urinary leakage, allowing individuals to regain confidence and resume their normal activities without the fear of embarrassment or social isolation. With proper care and maintenance, the AUS can provide durable relief from urinary incontinence, significantly improving the quality of life for affected individuals.

Benefits of AUS

The Artificial Urinary Sphincter (AUS) offers a range of benefits for individuals suffering from urinary incontinence, particularly those with complete urinary leakage. These benefits extend beyond mere physical relief, impacting various aspects of a person’s life, including their emotional well-being, social interactions, and overall quality of life. Let’s explore the benefits of AUS in detail:

Improved Quality of Life
One of the most significant benefits of AUS is the improvement in the quality of life it offers to individuals with urinary incontinence. Complete urinary leakage can be profoundly distressing, affecting self-esteem, confidence, and overall well-being. AUS provides reliable control over urinary leakage, allowing individuals to engage in daily activities, work, and social interactions without constant worry or fear of embarrassment. This improved sense of control and freedom contributes to a better quality of life and enhanced emotional well-being.

Effective Control over Urinary Leakage
AUS offers unparalleled control over urinary leakage compared to other treatment options. By mimicking the natural urinary sphincter mechanism, the device effectively prevents urine leakage, even during activities that would typically trigger incontinence, such as coughing, sneezing, or physical exertion. This level of control gives individuals the confidence to participate in various activities without the fear of accidents, leading to increased independence and a sense of empowerment.

Customizable Pressure Settings
Another advantage of AUS is its ability to adjust the pressure within the cuff to suit the individual’s needs and preferences. During the implantation procedure, the urologist can customize the pressure settings of the cuff to ensure optimal control over urinary continence while minimizing the risk of complications such as urinary retention or urethral erosion. This customization ensures that the device meets the unique requirements of each patient, maximizing its effectiveness and comfort.

Long-term Solution
AUS is designed to provide long-term relief from urinary incontinence, reducing the need for frequent interventions or adjustments. With proper care and maintenance, the device can last for many years, offering durable control over urinary leakage and minimizing the risk of recurrence. This long-term solution allows individuals to focus on other aspects of their lives without constantly worrying about their bladder function, leading to a more fulfilling and satisfying lifestyle.

Compatibility with Lifestyle Activities
A significant advantage of AUS is its compatibility with various lifestyle activities, including exercise, sports, travel, and intimacy. Unlike some other treatment options that may restrict certain activities, AUS allows individuals to participate in a wide range of pursuits without compromising its effectiveness. Whether swimming, running, or engaging in intimate relationships, individuals with AUS can enjoy life to the fullest, knowing that their bladder control is reliably maintained.

Minimal Maintenance Requirements
Once implanted, AUS requires minimal maintenance compared to other treatment options. While periodic follow-up appointments with a healthcare provider are necessary to ensure the device’s proper function, there are no daily medications or specialized care routines required. This simplicity and ease of maintenance make AUS a convenient and practical choice for individuals seeking long-term relief from urinary incontinence.

Risks and Considerations

While AUS offers significant benefits, it’s essential to consider potential risks and complications associated with the procedure. These may include:

Surgical Risks: As with any surgical procedure, there are risks of infection, bleeding, or complications related to anaesthesia.

Device Malfunction: Although rare, the AUS device may malfunction over time, requiring surgical revision or replacement.

Incontinence: In some cases, individuals may experience persistent urinary leakage despite the presence of the AUS device.

Mechanical Issues: The pump or cuff components may experience mechanical issues, leading to inadequate control over urinary flow.

Adjustment Period: It may take time for users to adjust to the presence of the device and learn how to operate it effectively.


The Artificial Urinary Sphincter (AUS) stands as a beacon of hope for individuals battling with complete urinary leakage. This innovative treatment offers a range of benefits that extend far beyond physical relief, profoundly impacting the lives of those affected by urinary incontinence. With its ability to provide effective control over urinary leakage, customizable pressure settings, compatibility with various lifestyle activities, and minimal maintenance requirements, AUS empowers individuals to reclaim control over their bladder function and regain their independence.

The journey towards managing urinary incontinence can be challenging, but with the advent of AUS, individuals can look forward to a future free from the constraints of constant worry and embarrassment. By restoring confidence, improving quality of life, and enabling individuals to engage fully in daily activities and social interactions, AUS paves the way for a brighter, more fulfilling future.

As medical technology continues to evolve, treatments like the Artificial Urinary Sphincter offer hope and promise to those living with urinary incontinence. By seeking support from healthcare professionals and exploring treatment options tailored to their needs, individuals can embark on a journey towards renewed freedom, dignity, and independence.

Dr. Sumit Sharma is an experienced urologist, andrologist, and kidney transplant surgeon with over 20 years of clinical experience. He is the founder of the Department of Urology at multiple hospitals in Gurgaon and has established successful kidney transplant programs across the city.

With a commitment to the highest standards, Dr. Sumit Sharma ensures personalised, professional treatment, making your well-being the primary focus. Choose Dr. Sumit Sharma for outstanding Urological care in Gurgaon.

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