Transport of Urine from the Kidney Through the Ureters and into the Bladder

Urine that is expelled from the bladder has essentially the same composition as fluid flowing out of the collecting ducts; there are no significant changes in the composition of urine as it flows through the renal calyces and ureters to the bladder.

Urine flowing from the collecting ducts into the renal calyces stretches the calyces and increases their inherent pacemaker activity, which in turn initiates peristaltic contractions that spread to the renal pelvis and then downward along the length of the ureter, thereby forcing urine from the renal pelvis toward the bladder. The walls of the ureters contain smooth muscle and are innervated by both sympathetic and parasympathetic nerves as well as by an intramural plexus of neurons and nerve fibers that extends along the entire length of the ureters. As with other visceral smooth muscle, peristaltic contractions in the ureter are enhanced by parasympathetic stimulation and inhibited by sympathetic stimulation.

The ureters enter the bladder through the detrusor muscle in the trigone region of the bladder, as shown in Figure 26-6. Normally, the ureters course obliquely for several centimeters through the bladder wall. The normal tone of the detrusor muscle in the bladder wall tends to compress the ureter, thereby preventing back-flow of urine from the bladder when pressure builds up in the bladder during micturition or bladder compression. Each peristaltic wave along the ureter increases the pressure within the ureter so that the region passing through the bladder wall opens and allows urine to flow into the bladder.

In some people, the distance that the ureter courses through the bladder wall is less than normal, so that contraction of the bladder during micturition does not always lead to complete occlusion of the ureter. As a result, some of the urine in the bladder is propelled backward into the ureter, a condition called vesi-coureteral reflux. Such reflux can lead to enlargement of the ureters and, if severe, can increase the pressure in the renal calyces and structures of the renal medulla, causing damage to these regions.

Pain Sensation in the Ureters, and the Ureterorenal Reflex.

The ureters are well supplied with pain nerve fibers. When a ureter becomes blocked (e.g., by a ureteral stone), intense reflex constriction occurs, associated with severe pain. Also, the pain impulses cause a sympathetic reflex back to the kidney to constrict the renal arterioles, thereby decreasing urine output from the kidney. This effect is called the ureterorenal reflex and is important for preventing excessive flow of fluid into the pelvis of a kidney with a blocked ureter.

Filling of the Bladder and Bladder Wall Tone; the Cystometrogram

Figure 26-7 shows the approximate changes in intra-vesicular pressure as the bladder fills with urine. When there is no urine in the bladder, the intravesicular pressure is about 0, but by the time 30 to 50 milliliters of urine has collected, the pressure rises to 5 to 10 centimeters of water. Additional urine—200 to 300 milliliters—can collect with only a small additional rise in pressure; this constant level of pressure is caused by intrinsic tone of the bladder wall itself. Beyond 300 to 400 milliliters, collection of more urine in the bladder causes the pressure to rise rapidly.

Superimposed on the tonic pressure changes during filling of the bladder are periodic acute increases in pressure that last from a few seconds to more than a minute. The pressure peaks may rise only a few centimeters of water or may rise to more than 100

Volume (milliliters)

Figure 26-7

Volume (milliliters)

Figure 26-7

Normal cystometrogram, showing also acute pressure waves (dashed spikes) caused by micturition reflexes.

centimeters of water. These pressure peaks are called micturition waves in the cystometrogram and are caused by the micturition reflex.

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Essentials of Human Physiology

Essentials of Human Physiology

This ebook provides an introductory explanation of the workings of the human body, with an effort to draw connections between the body systems and explain their interdependencies. A framework for the book is homeostasis and how the body maintains balance within each system. This is intended as a first introduction to physiology for a college-level course.

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