A team at Netcare Pretoria East Hospital has implanted an artificial urinary sphincter in a Krugersdorp man in a first-of-its-kind operation. The introduction of this technology is hoped to improve the lot of men suffering from urinary incontinence.

A revolutionary new device preventing urinary incontinence has been implanted in a Krugersdorp man

A new type of artificial urinary sphincter has been used for the first time in South Africa at a private hospital in Pretoria to treat men with severe urinary incontinence. The device, a Victo adjustable artificial urinary sphincter, was surgically implanted in a minimally invasive procedure by a team led by urologist Dr Johan Venter at Netcare Pretoria East Hospital.

According to Du Plessis, this latest-generation artificial sphincter was especially sent to South Africa from abroad at the request of Dr Venter. Dr Venter urgently requested the technology from local distributors in order to treat a Krugersdorp man who suffered stress incontinence problems.

“An artificial urinary sphincter is widely considered the gold standard of treatment for complete urinary incontinence in men who have suffered irreparable damage to the urinary sphincter,” explains Dr Venter. “The first procedure in South Africa using this new technology was completed successfully two weeks ago. The patient is doing well, having been discharged a day after the procedure. The artificial sphincter is activated approximately six weeks after implantation, once we are sure the patients have fully healed and accepted the device,” Dr Venter added.

“We will be performing a further procedure using this compact artificial sphincter on a Pretoria man with severe urinary stress incontinence soon, and will now be offering it as a standard urinary sphincter replacement option,” he said.

Du Plessis thanked Dr Venter and his team at the hospital for introducing the new technology in South Africa, which was designed to overcome shortcomings identified with older generation devices.

Dr Venter says various factors can potentially cause damage to the urinary sphincter and pelvic floor in men, including on-going bladder or bowel problems, constipation and heavy lifting. It can occasionally be a complication of prostatectomy, the surgical removal of the prostate gland to treat cancer.

The Victo device has a pump that is palpated by the patient when they need to urinate. This is made of soft silicone that is easy for the patient to operate and serves to deactivate the cuff of the sphincter so the patient can pass urine normally. The device is implanted and compact, limiting the size of the foreign object within the body. It also offers four cuff sizes for each of its configurations to provide a better fit for each patient’s anatomy. The cuffs are less likely to leak in the long term.

The Victo+ variant also has a stress-relief balloon added to automatically provide occlusion if there are increases in abdominal pressure.