To identify abnormal function of the limbic cortex (LC) in response to urinary urgency among patients with Overactive Bladder (OAB) using brain functional MRI (fMRI)
5 OAB subjects and 5 Controls underwent bladder filling and rated urgency sensations while fMRI measured activation in discrete volumes (voxels) within the brain. Changes in brain activation were related to bladder distension and individual subject’s rating of urgency via multiple regression analysis. Beta weights from regression equations were converted into percent signal change (PSC) for each voxel and PSC compared to the null hypothesis using T-tests. Significance threshold of P<.05 was applied along with a cluster size threshold of.32 ml (5 voxels).
OAB patients showed increased brain activation in LC, specifically the insula (IN) and Anterior Cingulate Gyrus (ACG), associated with increased urgency. Urgency sensations during low volumes were associated with bilateral IN activation in OAB subjects (7,621 voxels right IN, 4,453 voxels left IN, mean beta weights .018 +/− .014 and .014 +/− .011) Minimal activation was present in Controls (790 voxels right IN, beta weight =.010 +/− .007). Urgency sensations during high volumes were associated with bilateral ACG activation in OAB subjects (2,304 voxels right IN, 5,005 voxels left IN, mean beta weights of 005 +/− .003 and 004+/−.003) without activation in Controls.
Urinary urgency in patients with OAB is associated with increased activation of the LC. This activation likely represents abnormal processing of sensory input in brain regions associated with emotional response to discomfort.