I had an artificial urinary sphincter (AUS) fitted 3 days ago. The procedure lasted a couple of hours and I was under full aesthetic. The surgeon made two small incisions, one under the scrotum to insert the pump into the scrotum and to place the cuff over the urethra; the other in the lower abdomen to insert the reservoir balloon. I have some bruising and swelling of the testicles and mild discomfort when getting out of bed, but otherwise I’m feeling pretty good. There is a 6 week recovery period during which the tissues heal around the device, and then they’ll turn it on.
It has been nearly 18 months since my prostatectomy, and apart from a moderate improvement in overnight continence that came after 3 months, I have been largely incontinent, requiring around 8 pads a day. I took the decision to have the AUS fitted several months ago when it became clear on the best medical advice that no amount of exercising or other actions on my part would bring about a natural recovery. There is no medical explanation for this at this time, other than for whatever reason, my external sphincter is not strong enough to hold the urine in the bladder – despite 12 months of exercises done with great deliberation and done correctly.
When I took the decision to have the AUS, I also ceased using pads which I found very inconvenient and which caused me burning most days. I switched to a condom drain system, which I found to be very effective and to a large extent gave me my life back. I’ve used these now for 4 months, and will continue their use until my AUS is activated in August.
Before going ahead with the AUS, I explored all avenues. I learned from KW’s experience with the collagen and the sling (thanks KW) and I also checked out the stem cell treatment that was mentioned on Healingwell a while back (http://www.medpagetoday.com/MeetingCoverage/AUAMeeting/tb/3350). I spoke with a doctor from the University of Innsbruck in Austria which is developing this treatment. Unfortunately it is not suitable for those with severe incontinence, and he recommended I go ahead with the AUS.
Thanks to those on this site who posted their experiences with the AUS as it gave me confidence to progress down this path. I’ll post an update in 6 weeks and let you know if I am dry.