How Does the Bladder Sphincter Work?

The bladder sphincter is made up of two muscles that control the release of urine from the bladder through the urethra. If the bladder were a reservoir, then the bladder sphincter would be the dam that holds back water and controls when it is released. The bladder sphincter is made up of two muscles, the internal and external sphincter muscles.

  • The internal sphincter muscle is located at the opening of the bladder to the urethra. It is a smooth, involuntary muscle. Because of its location, it is also primary muscle prohibiting the release of urine.
  • The external sphincter muscle surrounds the area of the urethra outside the bladder. It is the secondary muscle in control of urine flow. It is made of skeletal muscle and is a voluntary muscle.

Both muscles function in a similar fashion. When one relaxes the voluntary muscle, the involuntary muscle relaxes as well. When these muscles are relaxed, they open up allowing for urine to flow out of the bladder through the urethra and out the body. When these muscles are contracted, they keep urine in the bladder. Given the functions of the bladder sphincter, it is understandable the important role it plays in urinary continence. Damage or weakening of these muscles can also be a main cause for urinary incontinence.

Urinary IncontinenceUrinary incontinence is the loss of bladder control. It is a common yet embarrassing problem. It can be as mild as releasing a small amount of urine when you laugh or sneeze, or as serious as having the urge to urinate come on so strong and fast that you don’t have time to get to a bathroom. Problems with the bladder sphincters can cause several different forms of incontinence.

One form of urge incontinence occurs when the urethra can’t hold back urine in the bladder and the bladder sphincters relax uncontrollably.

Stress urinary incontinence is another common issue. In this case, stress or damage to the sphincters or surrounding muscles can cause urinary incontinence. This is common in women after childbirth, or in men after prostate surgery or radiation therapy. Neurogenic bladder dysfunction occurs when trauma or disease of the central nervous system causes a person to lose control of their bladder sphincter muscles.

Although issues caused by malfunctioning bladder sphincters can be embarrassing, there are a variety of treatment options available. The option that works best–whether it be lifestyle changes, medication, or surgery–depends on the patient and their overall medical history. Urologists work to understand their patient’s unique needs and develop the best plan to treat their bladder problems. For more information, visit the Advanced Urology Institute website.

Surgical Options for Overactive Bladder

If you feel frequent, sudden urges to urinate that you cannot control, you might be suffering from overactive bladder. This condition can lead to feelings of embarrassment or shame, but it’s a common problem and can be treated in a variety of ways. For many people, overactive bladder can be treated with lifestyle changes such as special diet, weight loss, regularly timed trips to the bathroom, and exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor. Dealing with symptoms by using absorbent pads is also an option.

However, for some people, these methods are not enough to ensure they can live a healthy, fulfilling life. In these situations, surgical intervention is an option to correct overactive bladder problems.

Augmentation Cytoplasty

One of the options for treating overactive bladder is called augmentation cytoplasty. This procedure increases the size of the bladder. The surgeon accomplishes this by removing a small part of the intestine and using it to replace parts of the bladder in order to increase its capacity. For some people, this procedure allows them to resume normal bladder function. For others, the use of a catheter may be necessary for the rest of their life.

Urinary Diversion Surgery

Another surgical treatment option for overactive bladder is urinary diversion surgery. This procedure involves diverting urine from the bladder. One option for bypassing the bladder involves linking the ureters, which normally connect the kidneys to the bladder, to an ostomy bag outside of the body. Another option involves the creation of a new bladder inside of the patient’s body, which means they will be able to continue normal urinary function.

Bladder Removal

Bladder removal surgery, or a cystectomy, is the last resort option for patients with overactive bladder for whom no other treatment has been successful. For men, bladder removal surgery also involves the removal of part of the prostate; for women, it involves removal of the uterus, ovaries and part of the vagina. Because this is a risky procedure that involves multiple organs, it is usually only used for more serious urological conditions such as bladder cancer or birth defects. Removal of the bladder necessitates the use of a urinary diversion such as an ostomy bag or a stoma.

An overactive bladder can be a debilitating condition, but there are many options for treatment. If you are dealing with this issue, the physicians at Advanced Urology Institute are here to help you reach a diagnosis and find a treatment to restore your quality of life.

Dr. Dinesh S. Rao of Advanced Urology Specialists

Dr. Rao earned his medical degree at Duke University, then completed his residency at Duke University Medical Center. His areas of interest include minimally invasive laparoscopic and robotic prostate surgery.​ [Read Full Article…]