Urinary Sphincter is a set of muscles surrounding the neck of the bladder that keeps you dripping urine and this is where bladder and urethra connects. From the bladder the urine goes through the bladder neck then into the urethra. Once your urinary sphincter is no longer working well, a medical device call artificial sphincter will take place with your urinary sphincter. This is possible after you undergo prostate cancer surgery.
The urethra is the one that carries the urine out through the penis. Once you want to urinate or to pee, your sphincter relaxes and let the urine flow. After a prostate cancer surgery, there might be a damaged with the nerves that will tell the muscles of the sphincter it’s either to squeeze to end the urine leaking or to let the urine flow. As a result of this, you might leak urine.
Cuff, balloon and pump are the three parts that artificial sphincter is made of. This cuff is a donut-like shape, takes in around the urethra below the neck of the bladder, and filled with fluid. This puts enough pressure into the urethra to let your bladder hold the urine. The balloon or the reservoir having almost the same size with a ping-pong ball is placed in the body behind the pubic bone, and this held the fluids that supply the cuff. And in the scrotum is where the pump implanted. By squeezing it, this empty the fluid from the cuff to the balloon, allows the urethra to open and you can now urinate or pee.
Why would I need an Artificial Sphincter?
Incontinence is an unwanted leak or pass of urine. It is considered as one of the side effects or unwanted changes that might happen in the body after undergoing a prostate cancer surgery. Having this urine leakage after a surgery is normal and this is possible for several days, weeks or even months. There are so many ways in which you will be able to managed this incontinence like doing Kegel Exercise that makes the pelvic floor muscles stronger or by using medication that lessen the incontinence. But if this incontinence continues for a year and can’t be managed after the prostate cancer surgery, an artificial sphincter might be suggested by your doctor to help you control the leaking of your urine. Yes this artificial sphincter helps you control urine better but this may not stop the entire leaking of urine.
How does the Artificial Sphincter Work?
You may ask how this artificial sphincter works. Just simply think of how brakes of a car work. Upon putting your step into the brake pedal, pressure caused by the brake fluid makes the car stop. Once you take off your foot away from the brake pedal, pressure is taken off and your car move again. Like a brake, this artificial sphincter works. Once the cuff is filled, there is now pressure in the urethra and stops the urine from leaking. By pressing the cuff if moves the fluid into the balloon, then this take away the pressure on the urethra and allows you to urinate or pee. Within 3 to 5 minute, this cuff will be filled again by its own.
What can I expect after the surgery?
You may experience soreness in the perineum (the part between the anus and the base of the scrotum, this is the sack that holds the testicles). Normally, it is not too painful. Medication that you need to take will be prescribed to you by your doctor to help you get rid from this soreness. If you are having this sore and once the pain starts, just take the medication for you to be able to control it. But if the soreness continues for 2 to 3 days or it’s getting worse, contact your doctor or the Nurse Case Manager. If it’s still getting worse then your doctor is what you need.
The incision made on the operation must be kept and needs to be clean and dry. Make sure that any ointment or cream given by your doctor is being used in accordance with its prescription. Or you may ask assistance from your Nurse Case Manager if you have any difficulties in taking care of your incision.
After the surgery, you should refrain yourself from carrying heavy things for two weeks. Anything that weighs 10 pounds or more is too heavy and is almost equal to the weight of two huge bags of sugar or flour.
Not to include the slight feeling of heaviness within your scrotum area, you might not also aware that there is an artificial sphincter in your body. If you feel something that is uncomfortable or different of having such artificial sphincter, consult your doctor or the Nurse Case Manager.
When can I start using my Artificial Sphincter?
This artificial sphincter will not inflate for 6 to 8 weeks after the operation so this will give time to the portion that has been operated to heal. During this period of time, what you need to do is to keep using the pads for incontinence. Instructions on how to use this artificial sphincter will be given to you by the time that you go back to your doctor for check-up. Once you are going to start using the artificial sphincter, you will have lesser problems about your incontinence. It is normal to have some urine leaking but it is much lesser prior with your surgery. You might either still need to wear a pad or might be no longer needed at all. Ask your doctor or the Nurse Case Manager for any questions or for assistance.
Will the Artificial Sphincter change how my body looks?
This artificial sphincter will not change anything with your body looks. It is entirely place inside your body and will not show in the outside except for a small bump located in the scrotum where the pump is placed. Other than a minor feeling of heaviness, you might not be able to know that the there is an artificial sphincter inside your body.