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Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2003 Aug;285(2):R356-65. Epub 2003 May 15.

Urethral closure mechanisms under sneeze-induced stress condition in rats: a new animal model for evaluation of stress urinary incontinence.

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  • 1Department. of Urology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA.


The urethral closure mechanism under a stress condition induced by sneezing was investigated in urethane-anesthetized female rats. During sneezing, while the responses measured by microtip transducer catheters in the proximal and middle parts of the urethra increased, the response in the proximal urethra was almost negligible when the bladder response was subtracted from the urethral response or when the abdomen was opened. In contrast, the response in the middle urethra during sneezing was still observed after subtracting the bladder response or after opening the abdomen. These responses in the middle urethra during sneezing were significantly reduced approximately 80% by bilateral transection of the pudendal nerves and the nerves to the iliococcygeous and pubococcygeous muscles but not by transection of the visceral branches of the pelvic nerves and hypogastric nerves. The sneeze leak point pressure was also measured to investigate the role of active urethral closure mechanisms in maintaining total urethral resistance against sneeze-induced urinary incontinence. In sham-operated rats, no urinary leakage was observed during sneeze, which produced an increase of intravesical pressure up to 37 +/- 2.2 cmH2O. However, in nerve-transected rats urinary leakage was observed when the intravesical pressure during sneezing exceeded 16.3 +/- 2.1 cmH2O. These results indicate that during sneezing, pressure increases elicited by reflex contractions of external urethral sphincter and pelvic floor muscles occur in the middle portion of the urethra. These reflexes in addition to passive transmission of increased abdominal pressure significantly contribute to urinary continence mechanisms under a sneeze-induced stress condition.

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