Multiple Reflex Pathways Contribute to Bladder Activation by Intraurethral Stimulation in Persons With Spinal Cord Injury.
OBJECTIVE: To measure the urodynamic effects of electrical co-stimulation of 2 individual sites in the proximal and distal urethra in persons with spinal cord injury (SCI). This work was motivated by preclinical findings that selective co-stimulation of the cranial urethral sensory nerve and the dorsal genital nerve, which innervate the proximal and distal portions of the urethra, respectively, increased reflex bladder activation and voiding efficiency. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Electrical co-stimulation of urethral afferents was conducted in persons with chronic SCI during urodynamics. The effects of different frequencies of intraurethral stimulation at multiple urethral locations on bladder pressure and pelvic floor electromyographic activity were measured. RESULTS: Electromyographic activity indicated that multiple reflex pathways were recruited through stimulation that contributed to bladder activation. The size of reflex bladder contractions evoked by stimulation was dependent on stimulation location or reflex activated and stimulation frequency. CONCLUSION: Pudendal nerve afferents are a promising target to restore lost bladder control, as stimulation with different frequencies may be used to treat urinary incontinence and increase continent volumes or to generate stimulation-evoked bladder contractions for on-demand voiding. This work identified that co-stimulation of multiple afferent reflex pathways can enhance activation of spinal circuits and may enable improved bladder emptying in SCI when stimulation of a single pathway is not sufficient.
McGee, MJ; Swan, BD; Danziger, ZC; Amundsen, CL; Grill, WM
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