Modulation of the rat micturition reflex with transcutaneous ultrasound

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Neurourology and Urodynamics








focused ultrasound; neuromodulation; posterior tibial nerve stimulation


© 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. INTRODUCTION: Low intensity focused ultrasound has recently been identified as a novel method of stimulating targeted neurons. We hypothesized that ultrasound stimulation of the posterior tibial nerve would inhibit bladder contractions in an established rat model of rhythmic bladder contractions. METHODS: Cyclical detrusor contractions were initiated by placing a transurethral catheter in female rats and infusing saline into the bladder. Transcutaneous ultrasound pulses were then delivered to the lower extremity of a rat (overlying the posterior tibial nerve) using a single element spherically focused 250 kHz transducer. Sixty-three cycles were repeated at 2 kHz for 300 ms at peak negative pressure of 900 kPa pulsed at 0.5 Hz. RESULTS: We report successful suppression of bladder contractions using ultrasound stimulation in 10 animals. The average latency between the initiation of ultrasound and suppression of bladder contractions was 3 min 23 s (±51 s), the average time of contraction suppression was 13 min and 50 s (±2 min 25 s) and the average time from the end of ultrasound to return of contractions was 9 min 37 s (±2 min and 30 s). CONCLUSION: In this work, we demonstrate the ability of targeted transcutaneous ultrasound to inhibit rhythmic bladder contractions in anesthetized rats. Due to its non-invasive nature and ease of application, we believe ultrasound mediated suppression of the micturition reflex is potentially an ideal outpatient treatment of overactive bladder and dysfunctional elimination.

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