Surgical options are available to sufferers of urinary incontinence (UI) caused by the removal of the prostate or by spinal cord injury. Among these surgeries are the insertion or creation of a/an:
1. Artificial sphincter. A device that can be implanted to keep the urethra closed until one needs to void the bladder. The implant is ideal for patients whose sphincter muscle function has been impaired. Uncontrolled bladder contractions, however, will not be resolved.
2. Male sling. A sling is a strip of material wrapped around the urethra and whose ends are attached to the pelvic bone to keep pressure on the urethra until the patient voluntarily releases urine.
3. Urinary diversion. This procedure is done for extreme cases in which the bladder has lost all its function or the bladder itself has been removed. This works by creating a space, an alternative urine receptacle, where the ureters can deposit the urine. This is usually done by removing a piece of the small intestine to create the space. The surgeon also makes an opening on the lower abdomen where the urine can then be drained through a catheter or into a bag.
If one is afraid to undergo surgery, wants to limit drug intake, or has not regained confidence even after UI has been resolved, one may choose to wear adult pads or diapers to be sure that there will be no future (embarrassing) bladder accidents.
Again, it should be stressed that not all treatments are guaranteed to address urinary incontinence. It should also be emphasized, however, that UI is neither an inevitable part of aging nor untreatable. Regularly consulting one’s medical specialist and being on the constant lookout for new medical breakthroughs and research will help one manage UI, prevent further embarrassment, and eventually regain control of one’s bladder function… and consequently, one’s life.