Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging with Concurrent Urodynamic Testing Identifies Brain Structures Involved in Micturition Cycle in Patients with Multiple Sclerosis

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Neurogenic lower urinary tract dysfunction, which is common in patients with multiple sclerosis, has a significant impact on quality of life. In this study we sought to determine brain activity processes during the micturition cycle in female patients with multiple sclerosis and neurogenic lower urinary tract dysfunction.

Materials and Methods:

We report brain activity on functional magnetic resonance imaging and simultaneous urodynamic testing in 23 ambulatory female patients with multiple sclerosis. Individual functional magnetic resonance imaging activation maps at strong desire to void and at initiation of voiding were calculated and averaged at Montreal Neuroimaging Institute. Areas of significant activation were identified in these average maps. Subgroup analysis was performed in patients with elicitable neurogenic detrusor overactivity or detrusor-sphincter dyssynergia.


Group analysis of all patients at strong desire to void yielded areas of activation in regions associated with executive function (frontal gyrus), emotional regulation (cingulate gyrus) and motor control (putamen, cerebellum and precuneus). Comparison of the average change in activation between previously reported healthy controls and patients with multiple sclerosis showed predominantly stronger, more focal activation in the former and lower, more diffused activation in the latter. Patients with multiple sclerosis who had demonstrable neurogenic detrusor overactivity and detrusor-sphincter dyssynergia showed a trend toward distinct brain activation at full urge and at initiation of voiding respectively.


We successfully studied brain activation during the entire micturition cycle in female patients with neurogenic lower urinary tract dysfunction and multiple sclerosis using a concurrent functional magnetic resonance imaging/urodynamic testing platform. Understanding the central neural processes involved in specific parts of micturition in patients with neurogenic lower urinary tract dysfunction may identify areas of interest for future intervention.

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