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J Urol. 2005 Aug;174(2):418-24.

The current role of the artificial urinary sphincter for the treatment of urinary incontinence.

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Institute of Urology and Nephrology, University College London, London, United Kingdom.



The introduction of the artificial urinary sphincter (AUS) in 1972 was heralded as a revolution for the treatment of genuine stress incontinence. Initial enthusiasm was tempered by disappointment as complications occurred. The device has now been in routine clinical use for more than 30 years, and the indications and surgical principles involved in its use along with short-term and long-term outcomes are more clearly defined. Hence, we reviewed the literature to clarify the role of the AUS and offer a possible solution to its problems in the guise of a new sphincter.


A MEDLINE search was performed and all articles relating to the role of the AUS for the treatment of urinary incontinence were reviewed.


The AMS 800 (American Medical Systems, Minnetonka, Minnesota) provides urinary continence in 73% of cases (range 61% to 96%) and it has a complication rate of 12% (range 3% to 33%) for mechanical failure, 4.5% to 67% for early infection/erosion, 15% for late erosion and 7% for delayed recurrent incontinence. The literature supports the role of the AUS as an important and reliable treatment modality for stress urinary incontinence and intrinsic sphincter deficiency. However, it is not suitable in all patients and its use for the management of hypermobility is controversial. Hence, careful patient selection according to indication is required with full preoperative counseling.


Despite its reliability for achieving urinary continence the AMS 800 is not perfect. Newer devices, such as that being developed at our institution, may offer improved outcomes and decreased complication rates.

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