The aim of the present study was to use a model of simulated human childbirth in rats to determine the damage to genitourinary structures and behavioral signs of urinary dysfunction induced by vaginal distension (VD) in female rats. In experiment 1, the length of the genitourinary tract and the nerves associated with it were measured immediately after simulated human delivery induced by VD or sham (SH) procedures. Electroneurograms of the dorsal nerve of the clitoris (DNC) were also recorded. In experiment 2, histological characteristics of the bladder and major pelvic ganglion of VD and SH rats were evaluated. In experiment 3, urinary parameters were determined in conscious animals during 6 h of dark and 6 h of light before and 3 days after VD or SH procedures. VD significantly increased distal vagina width (P < 0.001) and the length of the motor branch of the sacral plexus (P < 0.05), DNC (P < 0.05), and vesical nerves (P < 0.01) and decreased DNC frequency and amplitude of firing. VD occluded the pelvic urethra, inducing urinary retention, hematomas in the bladder, and thinness of the epithelial (P < 0.05) and detrusor (P < 0.01) layers of the bladder. Major pelvic ganglion parameters were not modified after VD. Rats dripped urine in unusual places to void, without the stereotyped behavior of micturition after VD. The neuroanatomic injuries after VD occur alongside behavioral signs of urinary incontinence as determined by a new behavioral tool for assessing micturition in conscious animals.
- external urethral sphincter
- dorsal nerve of the clitoris
- major pelvic ganglion
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