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An artificial urinary sphincter is usually only suitable for men who still leak a lot of urine, at least six months after their prostate cancer treatment.

What is an artificial urinary sphincter?

It is a small device that consists of:

  • a fluid-filled cuff that fits around your urethra
  • a balloon in front of your bladder
  • a pump in your scrotum (the skin around your testicles).

The cuff presses the urethra closed, so that you don’t leak urine.

Watch the video below to find out how artificial urinary sphincters work.

How is it fitted?

You’ll have an operation to fit the device. You will have a general anaesthetic so you’ll be asleep and won’t feel anything. The cuff is placed around your urethra through a cut in your perineum (the area between the scrotum and the back passage). Another cut is made in your groin or abdomen. The balloon and tube will be placed through this and in front of your bladder. The surgeon also uses this second cut to place the pump in your scrotum.

Are there side effects?

Like all operations, there are risks in having an artificial urinary sphincter, such as infection or parts of the device breaking. Some men need another operation to fix problems. Around one in 10 men (10 per cent) may need their device taken out. Your doctor or nurse can tell you more about the possible risks.

If your hospital doesn’t do this type of surgery, your doctor may be able to refer you to one that does.