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What is The Spanner Stent and what is it used for?
The Spanner is a medical device called a temporary stent which resides completely within your body. The Spanner stent allows some men who can’t empty their bladder to urinate naturally without the need for a Foley catheter and an external leg bag. With The Spanner in place, you will maintain full control over urination—starting and stopping as you wish. Your urine will flow through The Spanner tube and out of your body.
If you have had a minimally invasive treatment and are wearing a Foley catheter, The Spanner Stent may be able to free you from wearing a catheter. Only your urologist can determine if you are a candidate for elimination of a Foley catheter.
Cross-sectional view of The Spanner
The Spanner has a small balloon near the tip which stays inside the bladder. This balloon is used to keep The Spanner in place. The tube allows urine to flow from the bladder through the portion of the urethra that the enlarged prostate gland is blocking. It holds the urethra open even though the prostate is pressing on it. The tube does not go through the sphincter, because if it did you would not be able to stop your urine from draining from your bladder. This is called incontinence or the accidental loss of urine. There are soft strings that do go through the sphincter, but they will not affect urination or cause accidental loss of urine. A soft tab connected to the strings is located at the other end of the stent. This tab keeps the stent from moving into the bladder. A retrieval string is tied to The Spanner, and is used to drain the balloon when it is time to remove The Spanner.
For more detailed information on The Spanner Stent, please review the Patient Information Booklet by clicking on the PDF to the left.
Ask your urologist about The Spanner Stent. Print out basic information for your doctor here.
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Anatomy of Urinary System
The bladder is an elastic organ that collects urine excreted by the kidneys before disposal by urination. Urine enters the bladder via the ureters and exits via the urethra. In the male anatomy, the urethra passes through the prostate, which is an exocrine (excretion) gland of the male reproductive system. In order to urinate, two things must happen. The detrusor muscle (a smooth muscle found in the wall of the bladder) must contract the bladder to squeeze the urine from the bladder and the external urethral sphincter muscle must relax to allow urine to exit the bladder via the urethra.
There are several reasons why you might experience voiding difficulties. Two common reasons are:
(1) Bladder Outlet Obstruction and
(2) Low Bladder Contractility.
When the prostate is enlarged or swollen, it constricts the urethra, narrowing the passageway of the urine out of the body, and impedes the urine. This is known as Bladder Outlet Obstruction (BOO).
What To Expect With Your Procedure
For more details about the Spanner, and to view an animation showing how the procedure is performed, please take a few minutes to review the video to the right.
How does The Spanner go in?
When you arrive and are ready for your procedure, you will be brought to a private room. Before inserting the stent, your healthcare professional may put a numbing gel into the urethra through the tip of your penis to help make you comfortable. The Spanner is then inserted into your penis using an introducer.
The Spanner is advanced until the tip is inside the bladder.
The balloon is then inflated with sterile water.
The balloon is positioned in the bladder neck.
The introducer is then removed, leaving the stent correctly positioned in the prostatic urethra.
Most men tolerate the stent very well, but some men have found it to be uncomfortable.
It is possible that you will experience one or more of the following while wearing The Spanner:
And, you may:
You can tell the stent is working because you feel like you are adequately emptying your bladder and are reasonably comfortable.
If you are frequently urinating only small amounts, your urination pattern has recently worsened, or you feel pressure in your bladder, The Spanner may not be helping with your urinary problems. You should contact your doctor immediately.
If you feel The Spanner needs to be removed for any reason, consult your doctor.
Wearing The Spanner does not preclude sexual activity. Of those men who engaged in sexual activity with The Spanner in place some reported mild or moderate pain or discomfort lasting less than 1 hour. The Spanner may interfere with erectile function and you may feel mild to moderate pain during an erection.
Caution: The Spanner must be removed by or under the supervision of a doctor. Removal of The Spanner by others may result in urinary retention or injury.
The doctor pulls the stent out using the retrieval string. Do not be concerned if you do not see the string. It is common for it to move into the urethra. Your doctor will still be able to take the stent out.
After locating the string, your doctor will gently pull on it. The string is connected to a plug that keeps the water in the balloon. When the plug is pulled, the water will drain out of the balloon. Once the balloon is empty, your doctor gently pulls the stent out. To see how The Spanner is inserted and removed, please take a few minutes to review the video presented above.
You may feel brief and temporary discomfort during insertion or removal of The Spanner. The doctor may use a numbing jelly in your urethra to make you more comfortable. Most Spanner patients experience mild or no pain upon insertion or removal of the device.
The following guidelines will help you decide what to do for problems that may occur with use of The Spanner.
Caution: The Spanner has not been evaluated for use with Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). If a MRI is needed, The Spanner should be removed.
Caution: The Spanner patient contact surfaces are silicone rubber. If you have a known allergy or sensitivity to silicone please notify your doctor.
Glossary of Terms
Bladder – The organ in the body where urine is retained until it is expelled from the body through the urethra.
Benign prostatic hyperplasia (also called BPH or benign prostatic hypertrophy) – An enlargement of the prostate caused by disease or inflammation, or more commonly related to aging. It is not cancer, but its symptoms are often similar to those of prostate cancer.
Bladder Outlet Obstruction – A blockage at the base of the bladder that reduces or prevents the flow of urine into the urethra, the tube that carries urine out of the body.
Catheterization – Insertion of a thin tube by way of the urethra into the bladder to allow urine to drain.
External Sphincter – A circular band of muscle that encircles the urethra. This muscle acts as a valve to start and stop the flow of urine.
Foley Catheter – The tradition approach to resolving some men’s BPH symptoms. Uncomfortable, no control over urination, and external collection of urination in a bag.
Incontinence – Uncontrolled leaking of urine.
Meatus – The opening or passage to the male urethra.
Pelvic MRI – A noninvasive procedure performed to obtain detailed images of the structure of the pelvic region.
Penis – Male sexual organ which is also used during urination.
Perineum – The area between the scrotum and the anus.
Prostate Gland – A male organ that surrounds the urethra at the base of the bladder and secretes a fluid that is a major part of semen.
Prostatic Urethra – The part of the male urethra that spans the length of the prostate.
Scrotum – The pouch of skin that contains the testes.
Stent – A tube used to open an obstructed pathway within the body.
Supra Pubic Catheterization – A thin tube inserted through an incision in the lower abdomen to the bladder which allows urine to drain.
Urethra – The tube that extends from the bladder to the exterior of the body that urine passes through.
Urinary Retention – The inability to urinate.
Urinate – To pass or discharge urine.