What does AUS mean in medical terms?

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You might come across the abbreviation AUS in a patient’s journal. The most accepted is that this abbreviation stands for an artificial urinary sphincter.

These devices were introduced in the late 1980s. They are an effective means of treatment for patients struggling with urinary incontinence.

It is most often implanted in males who develop incontinence following surgery or radiation treatment of prostate cancer.

The 3 part mechanical system is surgically inserted. Most patients experience satisfactory results, but some experience complications.

It is likely that more patients will receive this type of treatment in the future. Driven by improvements to the system and advances in biomechanical medicine.

What is an artificial urinary sphincter?

An artificial urinary sphincter is a biomechanical medical device. It is surgically inserted into the lower urinary tract to control the passage of urine. It consists of a cuff, pump, and balloon and operates with fluids.

The cuff is placed around the urinary tract. The balloon is inserted into the pelvic cavity, while the pump is located in the scrotum. The various parts are interconnected with tubes.

Why does someone need an artificial urinary sphincter and how does it work?

Under normal conditions, your urinary sphincter stays contracted at all times. It only relaxes until you choose to relax. This causes it to open and urine to flow through resulting in urination.

There are various conditions where the urinary sphincter does not work properly. This can result in it constantly staying open. This will result in constant leakage of urine.  Most often it develops following surgery or radiation treatment of prostate cancer. 

This constant leakage of urine can be very bothersome to those affected. An artificial urinary sphincter can solve this problem.

The cuff located around the urinary tract replaces the sphincter function. During most of the day, it’s filled with fluid. This compresses the urinary tract, preventing the flow of urine.

Once the bladder fills up and creates an urge to pee, the user activates the pump in the scrotum by pressing on it. This pumps fluid out of the cuff and into the balloon. This allows the urinary tract to open and urine to pass.

Once the user is finished peeing he activates the pump in the scrotum again. This will fill refill the cuff, once again closing the urinary tract.

An artificial urinary sphincter is primarily used in men. But, a few models can also be applied for women.

The results: Is it safe?

The satisfaction rate for individuals who have received an AUS is high. Currently, it ranges from 70-90%. When asked the vast majority of patients would recommend the operation to a friend or relative if they would have the same problems.

The most common cause of an unsatisfactory outcome is one of several complications.

  • Urethra injury
  • Urethral atrophy
  • Infection
  • Failed operation
  • Mechanical failure

The most severe complication is infections. They can develop whenever something non-biological is implanted into the body.

The most common complication is mechanical failure. These are in some ways expected as the device has an average lifespan of 7-10 years. luckily, a lot can be solved with operations, replacing damaged/non-functioning parts.

Closing remarks

Artificial urinary sphincters is a safe and effective means of treating urinary incontinence. It is a relatively new type of medical treatment that is likely to become more common in the future. This will increase experience with the device and drive continued research and improvements.