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J Neural Eng. 2017 Jun;14(3):036027. doi: 10.1088/1741-2552/aa6801. Epub 2017 Mar 21.

Chronic monitoring of lower urinary tract activity via a sacral dorsal root ganglia interface.

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Biomedical Engineering Department, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, United States of America. Biointerfaces Institute, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, United States of America.



Our goal is to develop an interface that integrates chronic monitoring of lower urinary tract (LUT) activity with stimulation of peripheral pathways.


Penetrating microelectrodes were implanted in sacral dorsal root ganglia (DRG) of adult male felines. Peripheral electrodes were placed on or in the pudendal nerve, bladder neck and near the external urethral sphincter. Supra-pubic bladder catheters were implanted for saline infusion and pressure monitoring. Electrode and catheter leads were enclosed in an external housing on the back. Neural signals from microelectrodes and bladder pressure of sedated or awake-behaving felines were recorded under various test conditions in weekly sessions. Electrodes were also stimulated to drive activity.


LUT single- and multi-unit activity was recorded for 4-11 weeks in four felines. As many as 18 unique bladder pressure single-units were identified in each experiment. Some channels consistently recorded bladder afferent activity for up to 41 d, and we tracked individual single-units for up to 23 d continuously. Distension-evoked and stimulation-driven (DRG and pudendal) bladder emptying was observed, during which LUT sensory activity was recorded.


This chronic implant animal model allows for behavioral studies of LUT neurophysiology and will allow for continued development of a closed-loop neuroprosthesis for bladder control.

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