The contributions to the rectal response to distension of the pelvic floor structures surrounding the rectum and of the sacral spinal innervation have never been studied. Using paralysed intercollicularly decerebrate, anaesthesia-free cats, we studied pressure-volume relationships during slow ramp distensions of the rectum. Results obtained from animals with intact pelvic cavities were compared with those following mobilization of the rectum from the pelvic floor musculature. To assess the influences of spinal outflow and afferent input, rectal pressure-volume relationships were measured in the mobilized rectum following bilateral sequential transection of the spinal roots S1 to S3, first dorsal, then ventral. Isolation of the rectum from the pelvic floor structures resulted in a decrease in balloon volume in the lower range of distension pressure but did not affect volumes at higher pressures. The only afferent effect was seen after sectioning of dorsal roots S1, which resulted in a decrease in balloon volume. The only efferent effect was seen after sectioning of ventral roots S3, which decreased balloon volume further. In conclusion, the rectal response to distension depends on the properties of the rectal wall. It may be influenced by somatic inputs, inputs from the myenteric nervous plexus, and from the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems. Afferent inputs and spinal autonomic reflexes may decrease the tone of the rectal musculature during distension.
- Pelvic floor
- Pressure-volume relationships
- Sacral innervation
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrine and Autonomic Systems