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Neuroimage. 2006 Jan 1;29(1):267-75. Epub 2005 Sep 8.

Functional imaging of stress urinary incontinence.

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1
Institute of Medical Psychology and Behavioral Neurobiology, University of Tübingen, Gartenstrasse 29 D-72074 Tübingen, Germany.

Abstract

Stress urinary incontinence (SUI) is defined as an involuntary loss of urine during increases in intraabdominal pressure such as coughing or laughing. It is often a consequence of weakness of the pelvic floor. Treatment of SUI consists of pelvic floor muscle training with EMG-biofeedback (PFMT) or contraction-exercises, with voluntary pelvic contractions in order to strengthen the pelvic floor. We investigated neuroplastic changes comparing PFMT with EMG-biofeedback before and after training in ten female patients with SUI using event-related functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI). After a 12-week training a more focused activation in the primary motor and somatosensory cortical representation sites of the lower urogenital tract was found. In addition, reductions in brain activation in the insula, right frontal operculum and the anterior cingulate cortex suggest changes in emotional arousal in micturition after treatment. These changes are related to clinical improvement documented by decreased number of incontinence episodes and increased EMG-activity of the pelvic floor muscles after training. The changes in EMG-activity were correlated with heightened BOLD responses in the primary motor and primary sensory cortical representation sites of the lower urogenital tract.

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