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The treatment of incontinence has involved numerous devices, some of them effective, some not.  Centuries ago, patients suffering from urinary incontinence wore bags to catch leaking urine, as shown in this Middle Ages woodcut.

urethra) into a pressure-regulating balloon. With pressure relieved from the urethra, urine flows freely. As the bladder empties, the fluid of the balloon automatically moves back into the cuff, squeezing the urethra shut and preventing leaks.

Surgery is mainly applied to patients with an incompetent urethra. The vast majority of patients suffer from bladder function-related incontinence. Surgery is rarely needed in these cases. Urologists have medications to tap for both genders to expand urine storage, improve bladder emptying or increase sphincter closure and relaxation. Oxybutynin chloride (Ditropan XL) and tolterodine tartrate (Detrol LA) reduce overactive bladders by blocking acetylcholine, the chemical that causes muscle contractions.

These drugs are hardly the end-all. As urologists look forward, they anticipate more effective drugs, delivered in patches, or implantable devices. A bladder pacemaker is used to control overactive bladder.

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