Objectives. To compare nocturnal deactivation with nocturnal activation of the artificial urinary sphincter (AUS) to determine whether nocturnal deactivation reduces the risk of urethral atrophy and subsequent recurrent incontinence. To the best of our knowledge, no review comparing these two approaches has been performed. Methods. At the Mayo Clinic, all patients are instructed to deactivate their AUS at night; at Baylor, all patients keep their AUS activated all the time. At each institution, a group of consecutive men with comparable severe urinary incontinence after radical retropubic prostatectomy were selected; 61 and 46 patients from the Mayo Clinic and Baylor, respectively, were available for review. All Mayo Clinic patients strictly adhered to nocturnal deactivation of their AUS and all 46 patients from Baylor kept their AUS activated at all times, except during voiding. Each patient was reviewed for the long-term risk of subsequent reoperation, especially regarding recurrent incontinence due to urethral atrophy. Results. Seventeen (27.8%) of the 61 patients from Mayo (mean follow-up 40 months) required a repeated operation. Of the 17 AUS failures, 6 (35%) were due to urethral atrophy. Of the 46 patients from Baylor (mean follow-up 28 months), 16 (34.7%) required a repeated operation. Of the 16 AUS failures, 10 (62%) were due to urethral atrophy. Overall, the patients who nocturnally deactivated their AUS had a 10% risk of atrophy-related incontinence compared with a 21% risk in the nocturnally activated group. Conclusions. Although not statistically significant, nocturnal deactivation appears to decrease the risk of urethral atrophy and recurrent incontinence (10% versus 21%). Nocturnal deactivation should be considered in men who are dry at night and have sufficient motivation to lessen the risk of urethral atrophy secondary to cuff compression.
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