The role of the rhabdosphincter in female rat voiding

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To obtain information on the mechanisms of female rat micturition using a model in which pressure was measured in the bladder and distal part of the urethra corresponding to the location of the rhabdosphincter, providing information on the role of the sphincter in opening and closing the urethral lumen.


A micturition reflex was induced in adult anaesthetized (chloral hydrate and urethane) female rats by filling the bladder with saline. Bladder pressure (BP), urethral pressure (UP), electromyography (EMG) of the middle part of the rhabdosphincter, and urinary flow rate in the distal urethra were simultaneously recorded.


There were four phases of the micturition contraction, the second characterized by intraluminal pressure high-frequency oscillations (IPHFOs) of BP. When a non-oscillatory micturition contraction started, the BP increased and exceeded UP for the rest of the micturition contraction. Even though the BP increased during this first phase, the urethral lumen stayed closed. Its opening was indicated by a simultaneous decrease in BP and increase of UP as the fluid flowed from the bladder to the urethra. When the rhabdosphincter closed, as indicated by an EMG-burst of the muscle, the UP declined, bladder pressure increased and the flow ceased. Because of momentary contractions of the rhabdosphincter, the UP and urine flow rate had the same periodicity as the IPHFOs of BP.


The simultaneous recording of the BP, UP, EMG of the rhabdosphincter and urinary flow rate showed the sequence of events during micturition. The rhabdosphincter acts as an ‘on-off’ switch, causing interruptions in the urinary flow rate.

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