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Int Urogynecol J Pelvic Floor Dysfunct. 2006 Nov;17(6):624-30. Epub 2006 Mar 11.

Assessment of voluntary pelvic floor muscle contraction in continent and incontinent women using transperineal ultrasound, manual muscle testing and vaginal squeeze pressure measurements.

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  • 1School of Physiotherapy, Curtin University of Technology, G.P.O. Box U1987 Perth, 6845, Western Australia,


The aims of the study were: (1) to assess women performing voluntary pelvic floor muscle (PFM) contractions, on initial instruction without biofeedback teaching, using transperineal ultrasound, manual muscle testing, and perineometry and (2) to assess for associations between the different measurements of PFM function. Sixty continent (30 nulliparous and 30 parous) and 60 incontinent (30 stress urinary incontinence (SUI) and 30 urge urinary incontinence (UUI)) women were assessed. Bladder neck depression during attempts to perform an elevating pelvic floor muscle (PFM) contraction occurred in 17% of continent and 30% of incontinent women. The UUI group had the highest proportion of women who depressed the bladder neck (40%), although this was not statistically significant (p=0.060). The continent women were stronger on manual muscle testing (p=0.001) and perineometry (p=0.019) and had greater PFM endurance (p<0.001) than the incontinent women. There was a strong tendency for the continent women to have a greater degree of bladder neck elevation than the incontinent women (p=0.051). There was a moderate correlation between bladder neck movement during PFM contraction measured by ultrasound and PFM strength assessed by manual muscle testing (r=0.58, p=0.01) and perineometry (r=0.43, p=0.01). The observation that many women were performing PFM exercises incorrectly reinforces the need for individual PFM assessment with a skilled practitioner. The significant correlation between the measurements of bladder neck elevation during PFM contraction and PFM strength measured using MMT and perineometry supports the use of ultrasound in the assessment of PFM function; however, the correlation was only moderate and, therefore, indicates that the different measurement tools assess different aspects of PFM function. It is recommended that physiotherapists use a combination of assessment tools to evaluate the different aspects of PFM function that are important for continence. Ultrasound is useful to determine the direction of pelvic floor movement in the clinical assessment of pelvic floor muscle function in a mixed subject population.

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