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Open Access Research article

Quantification of effectiveness of bilateral and unilateral neuromodulation in the rat bladder rhythmic contraction model

Xin Su1*, Angela Nickles2 and Dwight E Nelson1

Author Affiliations

1 Medtronic, Inc, Neuromodulation Research, 7000 Central Avenue NE, RCE470, Minneapolis, MN 55432, USA

2 Medtronic, Inc, Physiology Research Laboratory, 11520 Yellow Pine St, Coon Rapids, MN 55448, USA

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BMC Urology 2013, 13:34  doi:10.1186/1471-2490-13-34

Published: 18 July 2013



Using the isovolumetric bladder rhythmic contraction (BRC) model in anesthetized rats, we have quantified the responsiveness to unilateral and bilateral stimulation of the L6 spinal nerve (SN) and characterized the relationship between stimulus intensity and inhibition of the bladder micturition reflex.


A wire electrode was placed under either one or both of the L6 SN roots. A cannula was placed into the bladder via the urethra and the urethra was ligated. Saline infusion induced BRC.


At motor threshold (Tmot) intensity, SN stimulation of both roots (10 Hz) for 10 min reduced bladder contraction frequency from 0.63 ± 0.04 to 0.17 ± 0.09 contractions per min (26 ± 14% of baseline control; n = 10, p < 0.05). However, the same intensity of unilateral stimulation (n = 15) or sequential stimulation of both SNs (e.g. 5 min per side alternatively for a total of 10 min or 20 min) was less efficacious. The greater sensitivity to bilateral stimulation is not dependent upon precise bilateral timing of the stimulation pulses. Bilateral stimulation also produced both acute and prolonged- inhibition on bladder contractions in a stimulation intensity dependent fashion.


Using the bladder rhythmic contraction model, bilateral stimulation was more effective than unilateral stimulation of the SN. Clinical testing should be conducted to further compare efficacies of unilateral and bilateral stimulation. Bilateral stimulation may allow the use of lower stimulation intensities to achieve higher efficacy for neurostimulation therapies on urinary tract control.

Electrical stimulation; Bilateral; Bladder; Micturition; Spinal nerve