Continent women have better urethral neuromuscular function than those with stress incontinence

Kimberly Kenton*, Elizabeth Mueller, Linda Brubaker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Introduction and hypothesis The objective of this study is to describe urethral neuromuscular function using concentric needle electromyography (EMG) in stress incontinent (SUI) and asymptomatic women. Methods Following Institutional Review Board approval, we recruited SUI and asymptomatic women without urinary incontinence. Participants underwent quantitative urethral EMG and urodynamic testing. Results Sixty-seven women (37 SUI, 30 continent) with mean±SD age of 44±12 years participated. Nearly all EMG parameters showed significant differences between continent and SUI women consistent with better motor unit recruitment in continent women. Continent women had larger-amplitude, longer-duration motor unit action potentials (MUP) with increased turns and better MUP recruitment during bladder filling (P<.05). Increasing age was inversely correlated with nearly all MUP parameters (P<.05), suggesting MUP to be consistent with neuropathy. Conclusions We found significant differences in multiple MUP parameters in urethral sphincter between continent and stress incontinent women, suggesting continent women have better urethral innervation. We also found significant neuropathic MUP changes with advancing age, regardless of continence status.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1479-1484
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Urogynecology Journal
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2011


  • EMG
  • Electromyography
  • Stress incontinence
  • Urethra
  • Urethral closure pressure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urology
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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