What is the role of urethral occlusion devices in urinary incontinence treatment?

Updated: Jan 22, 2021
  • Author: Sandip P Vasavada, MD; Chief Editor: Edward David Kim, MD, FACS  more...
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Urethral occlusive devices are artificial devices that may be inserted into the urethra or placed over the urethral meatus to prevent urinary leakage. These devices are palliative measures to prevent involuntary urine loss. Urethral occlusive devices are more attractive than absorbent pads because they tend to keep the patient drier; however, they may be more difficult and expensive to use than pads.

Urethral occlusive devices must be removed after several hours or after each voiding. Unlike pads, these devices may be more difficult to change. With device manipulation, patients may soil their hands. In addition, there is always a risk that a urethral plug may fall into the bladder or fall off the urethra. Urethral occlusive devices may be best suited for an active incontinent woman who does not desire surgery.

The Impress Softpatch (UroMed Corporation, Needham, MA) is an adhesive foam patch designed for a single use. A hydrogel adhesive anchors the patch over the urethral meatus. In one study, 52% of women with mild-to-moderate stress incontinence were dry, and 82% were improved with the use of this device.

The Reliance Urinary Control Insert (UroMed Corporation, Needham, MA) is a small catheterlike device that is inserted into the urethra. The balloon is inflated with air. The single-use device is removed before voiding by pulling on an attached thread. Approximately 80% of patients are dry with the use of this insert, with an additional 12% greatly improved. Complications such as migration into the bladder and UTI have been reported.

The FemAssist (Insight Medical Corporation, Boston, Mass.) and CapSure Shield (Bard Urological, Covington, GA) are silicon devices that seal the urethral meatus with an action similar to a suction cup. These devices can decrease significantly the urine loss in short-term pad test studies.

In a more extended study of the device, only 2 of 31 women finished a 6-month trial. Reasons cited for dropout were lack of efficacy, poor adhesion, discomfort, and difficulty placing the device. This study points out that short-term results in highly motivated individuals may not be generalized to longer-term use under real-life circumstances.

The Introl Bladder Neck Support Prosthesis (UroMed Corporation, Needham, MA) is an insertable vaginal device with arms that provide support on each side of the bladder neck. If properly fitted, the prosthesis can achieve cure rates of approximately 80% for stress incontinence.

Incontinence pessaries also are available for use in mild stress incontinence. These ring- or dish-shaped devices usually are reinforced in the area that sits under the bladder neck/proximal urethra. A modicum of success has been achieved with these specially designed pessaries.

Various penile-compression devices are available to men with incontinence who have undergone radical prostatectomy. In a very small study (12 men), Moore et al showed that the Cunningham clamp provided better urinary leakage control and overall patient satisfaction than the C3 and U-Tex. However, the Cunningham clamp did cause reduced systolic velocity in the penis. In many cases, these devices do not eliminate leakage but may be suitable for men who wish to avoid surgery. [61]

For patients undergoing robot-assisted radical prostatectomy (RARP), a study by Lee et al found that the bladder plication stitch is an effective technical modification for lessening the period of recovery of urinary continence. [62]

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