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MR imaging of levator ani muscle recovery following vaginal delivery.

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Frauenklinik, Charité, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany.


Our aim was to quantify the changes that occur in the levator ani muscles (LA) after vaginal delivery using magnetic resonance imaging. Fourteen women underwent MRI 1 day postpartum. Six of them were also scanned 1, 2, 6 weeks and 6 months after delivery. LA signal intensities and thickness, in areas of the urogenital and the levator hiatus were assessed in the transverse plane. Perineal body position was measured in the sagittal plane. One day postpartum a higher T2-signal intensity of the LA compared to the obturator internus muscle was found in all women and a lower T1-signal intensity in 8 of 12 women. By 6 months these differences were present in only 1 woman in the left LA. An elevation in perineal body position of 13.4 +/- 7.3 mm (P < 0.05), as well as a decrease in the area of the urogenital hiatus by 27% (P<0.05) and of the levator hiatus by 22% (P < 0.05) by 2 weeks postpartum suggest a return of normal LA geometry. LA thickness showed interindividual variations, and a complete loss of LA tissue was found in 1 woman. Changes in LA signal intensity, topography and thickness during the puerperium can be documented using MR imaging.

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