How does the pontine micturition center (PMC) function in normal adults?

Updated: Dec 06, 2018
  • Author: Bradley C Gill, MD, MS; Chief Editor: Edward David Kim, MD, FACS  more...
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Answer

Answer

In a healthy adult, the PMC functions as an on-off switch that is signalled by stretch receptors in the bladder wall and is, in turn, modulated by inhibitory and excitatory neurologic influences from the brain. When the bladder is full, the stretch receptors are activated. The individual perceives the activation of the stretch receptors as the bladder being full, which signals a need to void or the sensation of urinary urge.

When an individual cannot find a bathroom nearby, the brain bombards the PMC with a multitude of inhibitory signals, via the periaqueductal gray matter, to prevent detrusor contractions. At the same time, an individual may actively contract the levator muscles to keep the external sphincter closed or initiate distracting techniques to suppress urination.


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