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AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2001 Apr;176(4):959-63.

Ultrafast MR imaging of the pelvic floor.

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  • 1Institute of Diagnostic Radiology, University Hospital, Rämistr. 100, CH-8091 Zurich, Switzerland.



The aim of this study was to compare pelvic floor anatomy and laxity at rest and on straining (Valsalva's maneuver) using dynamic ultrafast MR imaging in women who were continent versus those with stress incontinence differing in obstetric history.


Thirty continent women were divided into three equal groups (nulliparous, previous cesarean delivery, previous vaginal delivery) and compared with 10 women with stress-incontinence with a history of at least one vaginal delivery. MR imaging of the pelvic floor at rest and on maximal strain was performed, using axial T2-weighted fast spin-echo images followed by sagittal ultrafast T2-weighted single-shot fast spin-echo sequences. Mean population age (age range, 22-45 years; mean +/- SD, 36 +/- 5.4 years), was similar in the four groups, as was parity in the three parous groups.


Mean distances between the bladder floor and pubococcygeal line at rest did not differ between the four groups. On straining, bladder floor descent was 1.1 +/- 0.9, 1.0 +/- 1.1, and 1.9 +/- 0.9 cm in continent nulliparous, cesarean delivery, and vaginal delivery women, respectively, versus 3.2 +/- 1.0 cm in incontinent women (p = 0.0005). Cervical descent was greater in incontinent versus nulliparous women (p = 0.0019). Bladder floor descent was greater in the continent vaginal delivery group than in continent cesarean delivery control patients (p = 0.04). In patients with stress incontinence, symptoms did not correlate with amplitude of descent. The right levator muscle was thinner overall than the left, regardless of frequency direction (p = 0.001).


Ultrafast MR imaging using the T2-weighted single-shot fast spin-echo sequence allows dynamic evaluation of the pelvic compartments at maximal strain with no need for contrast medium. Pelvic floor laxity and supporting fascia abnormalities were most common in patients with stress incontinence followed by continent women with a history of vaginal delivery. The results are therefore compatible with the hypothesis of vaginal delivery as a contributory factor to stress incontinence in older parous women.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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