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Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2003 Jan;188(1):116-21.

Anatomic variations in the levator ani muscle, endopelvic fascia, and urethra in nulliparas evaluated by magnetic resonance imaging.

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  • 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Charité Campus Mitte, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin, Germany.



The purpose of this study was to develop a system to quantify interindividual variation in the appearance of continence system structures in normal continent nulliparous women.


Magnetic resonance imaging (1.5 T) was performed in 20 healthy continent nulliparous women (mean age, 30.1 +/- 5.1 years) with normal pelvic organ support and urodynamics. Morphometric measurements of the levator ani muscle, endopelvic fascia, and urethra were performed.


The ratio of the maximum-to-minimum measured values shows that 2- to 3-fold differences occur in distance, area, or volume measures of continence system morphologic features. The mean urogenital hiatus area was 15.2 +/- 2.9 cm(2) in women without a visible connection of the levator ani muscle to the pubic bone (4/20 women) and 12.3 +/- 2.4 cm(2) in women with an levator ani muscle-pubic bone connection (16/20 women, P =.05).


Considerable variation that was not attributable to limitations of the measuring technique that was used occurs in the size and configuration of the urethral support structures in nulliparous asymptomatic women.

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