Impact of Bioelectronic Medicine on the Neural Regulation of Pelvic Visceral Function.

  • de Groat W
  • Tai C
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Neuromodulation elicited by electrical stimulation of peripheral or spinal nerves is a U.S. Food and Drug Administered (FDA)-approved therapy for treating disorders of the pelvic viscera, including urinary urgency, urgency-frequency, nonobstructive urinary retention and fecal incontinence. The technique is also being tested experimentally for its efficacy in treating interstitial cystitis, chronic constipation and pelvic pain. The goal of neuromodulation is to suppress abnormal visceral sensations and involuntary reflexes and restore voluntary control. Although detailed mechanisms underlying the effects of neuromodulation are still to be elucidated, it is generally believed that effects are due to stimulation of action potentials in somatic afferent nerves. Afferent nerves project to the lumbosacral spinal cord, where they release excitatory neurotransmitters that activate ascending pathways to the brain or spinal circuits that modulate visceral sensory and involuntary motor mechanisms. Studies in animals revealed that different types of neuromodulation (for example, stimulation of a sacral spinal root, pudendal nerve or posterior tibial nerve) act by releasing different inhibitory and excitatory neurotransmitters in the central nervous system. In addition, certain types of neuromodulation inhibit visceral smooth muscle by initiating reflex firing in peripheral autonomic nerves or excite striated sphincter muscles by initiating reflex firing in somatic efferent nerves. This report will provide a brief summary of (a) neural control of the lower urinary tract and distal bowel, (b) clinical use of neuromodulation in the treatment of bladder and bowel dysfunctions,

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  • William C de Groat

  • Changfeng Tai

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