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Neurorehabil Neural Repair. 2009 Jul-Aug;23(6):615-26. doi: 10.1177/1545968308328723. Epub 2008 Dec 24.

Transcutaneously coupled, high-frequency electrical stimulation of the pudendal nerve blocks external urethral sphincter contractions.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.



Detrusor-sphincter dyssynergia is a condition in which reflexive contractions of the external urethral sphincter occur during bladder contractions, preventing the expulsion of urine. High-frequency stimulation (kHz range) has been shown to elicit a fast-acting and reversible block of action potential propagation in peripheral nerves, which may be a useful technique in the management of this condition.


The aim of these experiments was to see if a newly developed stimulus delivery system, capable of transmitting current transcutaneously to remote peripheral nerves using a passive implanted conductor, was an effective way to transmit high-frequency waveforms to the pudendal nerve to block ongoing sphincter contractions.


High-frequency waveforms were delivered through the skin to the pudendal nerve using a passive implanted conductor in 6 adult cats anesthetized with isoflurane. Five of the experiments were acute, terminal procedures, and the remaining cat was implanted with a permanent electrode system allowing evaluation for 6 months. Typical stimulation parameters were in the range of 1 to 10 kHz and 1 to 10 mA.


Complete blocking of external urethral sphincter contractions was achieved in 5 of the 6 animals. High-frequency stimulation was also tested in the chronically implanted animal without anesthesia, and the stimulation was tolerated with minimal aversive reactions.


The transcutaneous passive implanted conductor stimulus delivery system is an effective way to stimulate the pudendal nerve at high frequency, leading to sphincter relaxation. This system may provide a simple means to implement this stimulation paradigm in people with detrusor-sphincter dyssynergia.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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