Micturition Reflex

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Referring again to Figure 26-7, one can see that as the bladder fills, many superimposed micturition contractions begin to appear, as shown by the dashed spikes. They are the result of a stretch reflex initiated by sensory stretch receptors in the bladder wall, especially by the receptors in the posterior urethra when this area begins to fill with urine at the higher bladder pressures. Sensory signals from the bladder stretch receptors are conducted to the sacral segments of the cord through the pelvic nerves and then reflexively back again to the bladder through the parasympathetic nerve fibers by way of these same nerves.

When the bladder is only partially filled, these micturition contractions usually relax spontaneously after a fraction of a minute, the detrusor muscles stop contracting, and pressure falls back to the baseline. As the bladder continues to fill, the micturition reflexes become more frequent and cause greater contractions of the detrusor muscle.

Once a micturition reflex begins, it is "self-regenerative." That is, initial contraction of the bladder activates the stretch receptors to cause a greater increase in sensory impulses to the bladder and posterior urethra, which causes a further increase in reflex contraction of the bladder; thus, the cycle is repeated again and again until the bladder has reached a strong degree of contraction. Then, after a few seconds to more than a minute, the self-regenerative reflex begins to fatigue and the regenerative cycle of the micturition reflex ceases, permitting the bladder to relax.

Thus, the micturition reflex is a single complete cycle of (1) progressive and rapid increase of pressure, (2) a period of sustained pressure, and (3) return of the pressure to the basal tone of the bladder. Once a micturition reflex has occurred but has not succeeded in emptying the bladder, the nervous elements of this reflex usually remain in an inhibited state for a few minutes to 1 hour or more before another micturition reflex occurs. As the bladder becomes more and more filled, micturition reflexes occur more and more often and more and more powerfully.

Once the micturition reflex becomes powerful enough, it causes another reflex, which passes through the pudendal nerves to the external sphincter to inhibit it. If this inhibition is more potent in the brain than the voluntary constrictor signals to the external sphincter, urination will occur. If not, urination will not occur until the bladder fills still further and the micturition reflex becomes more powerful.

Facilitation or Inhibition of Micturition by the Brain

The micturition reflex is a completely autonomic spinal cord reflex, but it can be inhibited or facilitated by centers in the brain. These centers include (1) strong facilitative and inhibitory centers in the brain stem, located mainly in the pons, and (2) several centers located in the cerebral cortex that are mainly inhibitory but can become excitatory.

The micturition reflex is the basic cause of micturition, but the higher centers normally exert final control of micturition as follows:

1. The higher centers keep the micturition reflex partially inhibited, except when micturition is desired.

2. The higher centers can prevent micturition, even if the micturition reflex occurs, by continual tonic contraction of the external bladder sphincter until a convenient time presents itself.

3. When it is time to urinate, the cortical centers can facilitate the sacral micturition centers to help initiate a micturition reflex and at the same time inhibit the external urinary sphincter so that urination can occur.

Voluntary urination is usually initiated in the following way: First, a person voluntarily contracts his or her abdominal muscles, which increases the pressure in the bladder and allows extra urine to enter the bladder neck and posterior urethra under pressure, thus stretching their walls. This stimulates the stretch receptors, which excites the micturition reflex and simultaneously inhibits the external urethral sphincter. Ordinarily, all the urine will be emptied, with rarely more than 5 to 10 milliliters left in the bladder.

Abnormalities of Micturition

Atonic Bladder Caused by Destruction of Sensory Nerve Fibers.

Micturition reflex contraction cannot occur if the sensory nerve fibers from the bladder to the spinal cord are destroyed, thereby preventing transmission of stretch signals from the bladder. When this happens, a person loses bladder control, despite intact efferent fibers from the cord to the bladder and despite intact neurogenic connections within the brain. Instead of emptying periodically, the bladder fills to capacity and overflows a few drops at a time through the urethra.This is called overflow incontinence.

A common cause of atonic bladder is crush injury to the sacral region of the spinal cord. Certain diseases can also cause damage to the dorsal root nerve fibers that enter the spinal cord. For example, syphilis can cause constrictive fibrosis around the dorsal root nerve fibers, destroying them. This condition is called tabes dorsalis, and the resulting bladder condition is called tabetic bladder.

Afferent Efferent arteriole arteriole

Afferent Efferent arteriole arteriole

Excreation Drug Kidney Pharmacikinetics

Excretion = Filtration - Reabsorption + Secretion

Figure 26-8

Excretion = Filtration - Reabsorption + Secretion

Automatic Bladder Caused by Spinal Cord Damage Above the Sacral Region. If the spinal cord is damaged above the sacral region but the sacral cord segments are still intact, typical micturition reflexes can still occur. However, they are no longer controlled by the brain. During the first few days to several weeks after the damage to the cord has occurred, the micturition reflexes are suppressed because of the state of "spinal shock" caused by the sudden loss of facilitative impulses from the brain stem and cerebrum. However, if the bladder is emptied periodically by catheterization to prevent bladder injury caused by overstretching of the bladder, the excitability of the micturition reflex gradually increases until typical micturition reflexes return; then, periodic (but unannounced) bladder emptying occurs.

Some patients can still control urination in this condition by stimulating the skin (scratching or tickling) in the genital region, which sometimes elicits a micturition reflex.

Uninhibited Neurogenic Bladder Caused by Lack of Inhibitory Signals from the Brain. Another abnormality of micturition is the so-called uninhibited neurogenic bladder, which results in frequent and relatively uncontrolled micturition. This condition derives from partial damage in the spinal cord or the brain stem that interrupts most of the inhibitory signals. Therefore, facilitative impulses passing continually down the cord keep the sacral centers so excitable that even a small quantity of urine elicits an uncontrollable micturition reflex, thereby promoting frequent urination.

Urine Formation Results from Glomerular Filtration, Tubular Reabsorption, and Tubular Secretion

The rates at which different substances are excreted in the urine represent the sum of three renal processes, shown in Figure 26-8: (1) glomerular filtration, (2) reabsorption of substances from the renal tubules into the blood, and (3) secretion of substances from the blood into the renal tubules. Expressed mathematically,

Urinary excretion rate = Filtration rate - Reabsorption rate + Secretion rate

Figure 26-8

Basic kidney processes that determine the composition of the urine. Urinary excretion rate of a substance is equal to the rate at which the substance is filtered minus its reabsorption rate plus the rate at which it is secreted from the peritubular capillary blood into the tubules.

Urine formation begins when a large amount of fluid that is virtually free of protein is filtered from the glomerular capillaries into Bowman's capsule. Most substances in the plasma, except for proteins, are freely filtered, so that their concentration in the glomerular filtrate in Bowman's capsule is almost the same as in the plasma. As filtered fluid leaves Bowman's capsule and passes through the tubules, it is modified by reabsorption of water and specific solutes back into the blood or by secretion of other substances from the peritubular capillaries into the tubules.

Figure 26-9 shows the renal handling of four hypothetical substances. The substance shown in panel A is freely filtered by the glomerular capillaries but is neither reabsorbed nor secreted. Therefore, its excretion rate is equal to the rate at which it was filtered. Certain waste products in the body, such as creatinine, are handled by the kidneys in this manner, allowing excretion of essentially all that is filtered.

In panel B, the substance is freely filtered but is also partly reabsorbed from the tubules back into the blood. Therefore, the rate of urinary excretion is less than the rate of filtration at the glomerular capillaries. In this case, the excretion rate is calculated as the filtration rate minus the reabsorption rate. This is typical for many of the electrolytes of the body.

In panel C, the substance is freely filtered at the glomerular capillaries but is not excreted into the

A. Filtration only B. Filtration, partial reabsorption

A. Filtration only B. Filtration, partial reabsorption

C. Filtration, complete D. Filtration, secretion reabsorption

C. Filtration, complete D. Filtration, secretion reabsorption

Figure 26-9

Renal handling of four hypothetical substances. A, The substance is freely filtered but not reabsorbed. B, The substance is freely filtered, but part of the filtered load is reabsorbed back in the blood. C, The substance is freely filtered but is not excreted in the urine because all the filtered substance is reabsorbed from the tubules into the blood. D, The substance is freely filtered and is not reabsorbed but is secreted from the peritubular capillary blood into the renal tubules.

urine because all the filtered substance is reabsorbed from the tubules back into the blood. This pattern occurs for some of the nutritional substances in the blood, such as amino acids and glucose, allowing them to be conserved in the body fluids.

The substance in panel D is freely filtered at the glomerular capillaries and is not reabsorbed, but additional quantities of this substance are secreted from the peritubular capillary blood into the renal tubules. This pattern often occurs for organic acids and bases, permitting them to be rapidly cleared from the blood and excreted in large amounts in the urine. The excretion rate in this case is calculated as filtration rate plus tubular secretion rate.

For each substance in the plasma, a particular combination of filtration, reabsorption, and secretion occurs. The rate at which the substance is excreted in the urine depends on the relative rates of these three basic renal processes.

Filtration, Reabsorption, and Secretion of Different Substances

In general, tubular reabsorption is quantitatively more important than tubular secretion in the formation of urine, but secretion plays an important role in determining the amounts of potassium and hydrogen ions and a few other substances that are excreted in the urine. Most substances that must be cleared from the blood, especially the end products of metabolism such as urea, creatinine, uric acid, and urates, are poorly reabsorbed and are therefore excreted in large amounts in the urine. Certain foreign substances and drugs are also poorly reabsorbed but, in addition, are secreted from the blood into the tubules, so that their excretion rates are high. Conversely, electrolytes, such as sodium ions, chloride ions, and bicarbonate ions, are highly reabsorbed, so that only small amounts appear in the urine. Certain nutritional substances, such as amino acids and glucose, are completely reabsorbed from the tubules and do not appear in the urine even though large amounts are filtered by the glomerular capillaries.

Each of the processes—glomerular filtration, tubular reabsorption, and tubular secretion—is regulated according to the needs of the body. For example, when there is excess sodium in the body, the rate at which sodium is filtered increases and a smaller fraction of the filtered sodium is reabsorbed, resulting in increased urinary excretion of sodium.

For most substances, the rates of filtration and reabsorption are extremely large relative to the rates of excretion. Therefore, subtle adjustments of filtration or reabsorption can lead to relatively large changes in renal excretion. For example, an increase in glomeru-lar filtration rate (GFR) of only 10 per cent (from 180 to 198 L/day) would raise urine volume 13-fold (from 1.5 to 19.5 L/day) if tubular reabsorption remained constant. In reality, changes in glomerular filtration and tubular reabsorption usually act in a coordinated manner to produce the necessary changes in renal excretion.

Why Are Large Amounts of Solutes Filtered and Then Reabsorbed by the Kidneys? One might question the wisdom of filtering such large amounts of water and solutes and then reabsorbing most of these substances. One advantage of a high GFR is that it allows the kidneys to rapidly remove waste products from the body that depend primarily on glomerular filtration for their excretion. Most waste products are poorly reabsorbed by the tubules and, therefore, depend on a high GFR for effective removal from the body.

A second advantage of a high GFR is that it allows all the body fluids to be filtered and processed by the kidney many times each day. Because the entire plasma volume is only about 3 liters, whereas the GFR is about 180 L/day, the entire plasma can be filtered and processed about 60 times each day. This high GFR allows the kidneys to precisely and rapidly control the volume and composition of the body fluids.

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    What happens during the micturition reflex?
    4 years ago
  • Marcus
    Why is there a period of sustained pressure in micturition reflex?
    4 years ago
  • lauri
    Why a period of sustained pressure occurs in micturition reflex cycle?
    3 years ago
  • Patricia
    Why micturition reflex is so strong?
    3 years ago
  • haile
    What is micturation reflex?
    3 years ago
  • grimalda
    How is micturition first initiated?
    2 years ago
  • mebrat adonay
    How many milliliters for micturation reflex?
    7 months ago
  • maciej
    Is micturation feflex self regenerating?
    5 months ago

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