Functional Brain Imaging in Voiding Dysfunction


Purpose of Review

Voiding dysfunction (VD) is morbid, costly, and leads to urinary tract infections, stones, sepsis, and permanent renal failure. Evaluation and diagnosis of VD in non-obstructed patients can be challenging. Potential diagnostic and therapeutic options beyond the bladder, such as brain centers involved in voiding have been proposed as promising targets. This review focuses on current and future applications of functional neuroimaging in human in voiding and in patients with VD.

Recent Findings

The current understanding of brain centers and their roles in initiating, maintaining, and/or modulating voiding is rudimentary in humans and in patients with VD. With the advent and advancement in functional neuroimaging, we are gaining more insight into specific brain regions involved in the voiding phase of micturition. In healthy individuals, right dorsomedial pontine tegmentum, periaqueductal gray, hypothalamus, and the inferior, medial, and superior frontal gyrus have been identified as regions of interest in voiding.


Functional neuroimaging could suggest new diagnostic methods and provides crucial steps towards therapeutic options for the morbid and intractable VD condition, in patients with neurogenic (e.g., MS or strokes) or non-neurogenic VD (e.g., underactive bladder or Fowler’s syndrome).

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Fig. 1


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Correspondence to Rose Khavari.

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Conflict of Interest

Dr. Khavari reports that she is partially supported by K23DK118209, by National Institute of Heath, NIDDK.

Dr. Boone has nothing to disclose.

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This article is part of the Topical Collection on Voiding Dysfunction Evaluation

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Khavari, R., Boone, T.B. Functional Brain Imaging in Voiding Dysfunction. Curr Bladder Dysfunct Rep 14, 24–30 (2019).

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  • Voiding
  • fMRI
  • Neuroimaging
  • Bladder dysfunction
  • Micturition