Autonomous bladder activity can take the form of localized micromotions (MMs), suggesting that the detrusor may be arranged into component modules, of which each is capable of contracting autonomously. We examined MMs in isolated whole rat bladder and the effects of partial bladder outlet obstruction as a model of detrusor overactivity (DO) to ascertain whether altered modular activity could be an etiological factor in DO.

Materials and Methods:

A total of 12 adult female Sprague-Dawley rats underwent obstruction or sham operation for 1 or 4 weeks. Bladders were microsurgically removed and mounted in whole organ tissue baths. Recordings of intravesical pressure and simultaneous registration of intramural contractions were performed under standardized conditions.


Prior to filling MMs took the form of localized contractions near the vesicoureteral junction in sham operated animals and multifocal microcontractions in obstructed animals. Intravesical volume increases were associated with a change in localized MMs to propagated contraction waves. In sham operated animals stretch resulted in increased MM frequency but decreased amplitude. After obstruction stretch elicited highly coordinated MMs and enhanced intravesical pressure transmission. The time since surgery did not alter observations in the sham or obstructed group.


Detrusor muscle in isolated bladders under conditions modeling urine storage may have a functional modular arrangement with the basolateral region most active prior to filling. Peripheral factors determining intravesical pressure include the number of modules active, coordination and intramural tension at other sites. After bladder outlet obstruction more modules are active at baseline and their coordination is enhanced by stretch, leading to increased pressure fluctuations. Such changes may contribute to the development of DO.


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From the Urophysiology Research Group (MJD, IJH, JIG), School of Surgical Sciences, University of Newcastle, United Kingdom, and Department of Clinical Pharmacology (PH, RKP, K-EA), Lund University Hospital, Sweden