Background/Purpose: Few studies have investigated the feasibility of using pudendal neuromodulation to regulate bladder function in spinal cord-injured (SCI) animals. The present study aimed to determine the effects of electrical activation of the pudendal sensory branch on improving voiding functions in rats 6 weeks after a spinal cord injury and to explore the underlying neuromodulatory mechanisms. Methods: Two urodynamic measurements were used to assess the effects of electrical stimulation (ES) on bladder and urethral functions: simultaneous recordings of the intravesical pressure (IVP) during continuous isotonic transvesical infusion (i.e., isotonic IVP) and external urethral sphincter (EUS) electromyography (EUS-EMG), and simultaneous recordings of transvesical pressure under isovolumetric conditions (i.e., isovolumetric IVP) and urethral perfusion pressure (UPP). Results: Six weeks after the SCI, the rats showed voiding dysfunction, as indicated by abnormal cystometric measurements (e.g., increased volume threshold, increased contraction amplitude, and increased residual volume, and decreased voided volume). The voiding efficiency (VE) decreased to 13% after the SCI, but increased to 22-34% after applying pudendal afferent stimulation. In addition, pudendal stimulation significantly increased the EUS burst period and increased the difference between the UPP and the high-frequency oscillation (HFO) baselines, and changed the time offset between bladder and EUS activities. These findings suggest that pudendal afferent stimulation improved the VE by prolonging the micturition interval, decreased the urethral resistance, and recovered detrusor-sphincter dyssynergia during the voiding phase. Conclusion: This study demonstrates the feasibility of using pudendal neuromodulation in chronic SCI rats. These results could aid in developing an advanced neural prosthesis to restore bladder function in clinical settings.
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