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Obstet Gynecol. 1997 Apr;89(4):604-8.

A computer model of uterine contractions based on action potential propagation and intercellular calcium waves.

Author information

  • Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston 29425, USA.



To simulate a uterine contraction using a novel computer model for uterine communication and to validate the assumptions of the computer model by comparing the simulated contraction with a real uterine contraction.


The computer model assumed two known mechanisms of intercellular communication: action potential propagation and calcium wave propagation. Simulations were performed on a desktop computer using available programming language. Model validity was assessed by fitting the computer-simulated contraction to a real contraction and comparing the fit values with values measured independently.


The simulated contraction demonstrated five characteristics that are also observed in human labor: 1) gradual onset, 2) a linear rising segment, 3) a plateau region, 4) a symmetrical fall, and 5) gradual offset. The fit values agreed well with values determined experimentally and supported the model.


Our results support the model, strongly suggesting that intercellular communication occurs throughout the uterus by action potentials and locally within the tissue by calcium waves.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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