• rhabdosphincter;
  • structure;
  • histology;
  • cystometry;
  • electromyography;
  • rat


In order to understand the structure-function relationship in the male rat rhabdosphincter, the 3D structure of the striated muscle and associated dense connective tissue was reconstructed from representative serial sections cut from the proximal urethra harboring the muscle. The 3D structure was correlated with electromyography (EMG) of the rhabdosphincter, urodynamic parameters (bladder pressure and flow rate), and longitudinal contraction force of the proximal urethra. The muscular component of the rhabdosphincter consisted of a homogeneous population of the fast-twitch-type fibers. In the cranial part, striated muscle formed a complete ring encircling the urethra, deferent ducts, and ducts from seminal vesicles and prostatic lobes. Toward the middle part, the amount of densely packed connective tissue lacking type III collagen increased anteriorly and posteriorly and penetrated the muscular ring that became divided first posteriorly and then anteriorly into two symmetrical halves. In the caudal part, a thin midsagittal dense connective tissue septum remained posteriorly. EMG recordings suggested that the rhabdosphincter muscle was functionally divided into two parts. Unlike the cranial and middle parts, the caudal part did not show the first depolarization peak. It appears that rapid oscillatory oblique-to-circular muscular contractions proceeding in craniocaudal direction in the cranial and middle part draw the anterior wall supported by arch-like dense connective tissue closer to the posterior wall supported by a more rigid rhomboidal raphe. Longitudinal contractions of the urethra are possibly evoked from the proximal and caudal parts of rhabdosphincter. These could lead to simultaneous increase in urethral pressure ensuring rapid urine flow rate. The caudal part could augment the opening of urethral lumen during oscillatory voiding. Anat Rec Part A, 2006. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.