Reliability of supraspinal correlates to lower urinary tract stimulation in healthy participants - A fMRI study

Neuroimage. 2019 May 1:191:481-492. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2019.02.031. Epub 2019 Feb 15.


Previous functional neuroimaging studies provided evidence for a specific supraspinal network involved in lower urinary tract (LUT) control. However, data on the reliability of blood oxygenation level-dependent (BOLD) signal changes during LUT task-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) across separate measurements are lacking. Proof of the latter is crucial to evaluate whether fMRI can be used to assess supraspinal responses to LUT treatments. Therefore, we prospectively assessed task-specific supraspinal responses from 20 healthy participants undergoing two fMRI measurements (test-retest) within 5-8 weeks. The fMRI measurements, conducted in a 3T magnetic resonance (MR) scanner, comprised a block design of repetitive bladder filling and drainage using an automated MR-compatible and MR-synchronized infusion-drainage device. Following transurethral catheterization and bladder pre-filling with body warm saline until participants perceived a persistent desire to void (START condition), fMRI was recorded during repetitive blocks (each 15 s) of INFUSION and WITHDRAWAL of 100 mL body warm saline into respectively from the bladder. BOLD signal changes were calculated for INFUSION minus START. In addition to whole brain analysis, we assessed BOLD signal changes within multiple 'a priori' region of interest (ROI), i.e. brain areas known to be involved in the LUT control from previous literature. To evaluate reliability of the fMRI results between visits, we applied different types of analyses: coefficient of variation (CV), intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC), Sørensen-Dice index, Bland-Altman method, and block-wise BOLD signal comparison. All participants completed the study without adverse events. The desire to void was rated significantly higher for INFUSION compared to START or WITHDRAWAL at both measurements without any effect of visit. At whole brain level, significant (p < 0.05, cluster corrected, k ≥ 41 voxels) BOLD signal changes were found for the contrast INFUSION compared to START in several brain areas. Overlap of activation maps from both measurements were observed in the orbitofrontal cortex, insula, ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (VLPFC), and inferior parietal lobe. The two highest ICCs, based on a ROI's mean beta weight, were 0.55 (right insular cortex) and 0.47 (VLPFC). Spatial congruency (Sørensen-Dice index) of all voxels within each ROI between measurements was highest in the insular cortex (left 0.55, right 0.44). In addition, the mean beta weight of the right insula and right VLPFC demonstrated the lowest CV and narrowest Bland and Altman 95% limits of agreement. In conclusion, the right insula and right VLPFC were revealed as the two most reliable task-specific ROIs using our automated, MR-synchronized protocol. Achieving high reliability using a viscero-sensory/interoceptive task such as repetitive bladder filling remains challenging and further endeavour is highly warranted to better understand which factors influence fMRI outcomes and finally to assess LUT treatment effects on the supraspinal level.

Keywords: Functional magnetic resonance imaging; Interoception; Lower urinary tract; Reliability; Strong desire to void; Supraspinal control.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Brain / anatomy & histology*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Urinary Bladder / innervation*
  • Young Adult