Background: Restoration of normal bladder volume and function (i.e., bioequivalent bladder) are observed within 8 weeks of performing subtotal cystectomy (STC; removal of ~70 % of the bladder) in 12-week old rats. For analysis of bladder function in rodents, terminal urodynamic approaches are largely utilized. In the current study, we investigated the potential for Computed Tomography (CT) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans to noninvasively track restoration of structure and function following STC.
Methods: Twelve week old female Fisher F344 rats underwent STC and were scanned via CT and/or MRI 2, 4, 8, and 12 weeks post-STC, followed by urodynamic testing. After euthanasia, bladders were excised for histological processing.
Results: MRI scans demonstrated an initial decline followed by a time-dependent increase to normal bladder wall thickness (BWT) by 8 weeks post-STC. Masson's trichrome staining showed a lack of fibrosis post-STC, and also revealed that the percent of smooth muscle in the bladder wall at 2 and 4 weeks positively correlated with pre-operative baseline BWT. Moreover, increased BWT values before STC was predictive of improved bladder compliance at 2 and 4 weeks post-STC. Cystometric studies indicated that repeated MRI manipulation (i.e. bladder emptying) apparently had a negative impact on bladder capacity and compliance. A "window" of bladder volumes was identified 2 weeks post-STC via CT scanning that were commensurate with normal micturition pressures measured in the same animal 6 weeks later.
Conclusions: Taken together, the data indicate some limitations of "non-invasive" imaging to provide insight into bladder regeneration. Specifically, mechanical manipulation of the bladder during MRI appears to negatively impact the regenerative process per se, which highlights the importance of terminal cystometric studies.