Determining integrity of bladder innervation and smooth muscle function 1 year after lower spinal root transection in canines

Neurourol Urodyn. 2018 Nov;37(8):2495-2501. doi: 10.1002/nau.23765. Epub 2018 Jul 19.


Aims: To assess bladder smooth muscle function and innervation after long-term lower spinal root transection in canines.

Methods: Thirteen female mixed-breed hound dogs underwent bladder decentralization, which included transection of all sacral dorsal and ventral roots caudal to L7 and hypogastric nerves, bilaterally (n = 3); all sacral roots and hypogastric nerves plus transection of L7 dorsal roots, bilaterally (n = 4); or a sham operation (n = 6). At a year after initial surgery, bladder function was assessed in vivo by stimulation of the pelvic plexus. The bladder tissue was harvested for ex vivo smooth muscle contractility studies. Remaining bladder was evaluated for nerve morphology immunohistochemically using neuronal marker PGP9.5, apoptotic activity using terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labeling, and histopathology using a hematoxylin and eosin stain.

Results: Sacral root decentralization did not reduce maximum strength of pelvic plexus stimulation-induced bladder contraction, although long-term sacral dorsal and ventral root plus L7 dorsal root transection significantly decreased contraction strength. Electric field stimulation-induced contractions of the detrusor from all decentralized animals were preserved, compared to controls. Viable nerves and intramural ganglia were visualized in the bladder wall, regardless of group. There was no difference in amount of apoptosis in bladder smooth muscle between groups.

Conclusion: Bladder smooth muscle cells maintain their function after long-term bladder decentralization. While pelvic plexus-induced bladder contractions were less robust at 1 year after lower spinal root transection, the absence of atrophy and preservation of at least some nerve activity may allow for successful surgical reinnervation after long-term injury.

Keywords: bladder smooth muscle; intramural ganglia; spinal root injury; urinary incontinence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Decerebrate State / physiopathology*
  • Dogs
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Female
  • Hypogastric Plexus / injuries
  • In Situ Nick-End Labeling
  • Muscle Contraction
  • Muscle, Smooth / innervation
  • Muscle, Smooth / physiopathology*
  • Nerve Regeneration
  • Spinal Nerve Roots / injuries
  • Spinal Nerve Roots / physiopathology
  • Urinary Bladder / injuries*
  • Urinary Bladder / innervation*