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Eur J Radiol. 2003 Aug;47(2):117-22.

Functional imaging of the pelvic floor.

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Department of Clinical Radiology, Klinikum Grosshadern, Ludwig-Maximilians University, Munich, Marchioninistr. 15, D-81377 Munich, Germany.



Pelvic floor dysfunction and associated pelvic organ prolapse represent a major problem in our present-day society, mostly afflicting parous women. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is assuming an increasingly important role in the more accurate delineation of the extent of the problem. This article briefly reviews one of the main radiological methods for the dynamic evaluation of the pelvic floor: functional cine MRI.


Out of the literature the smallest common denominator for functional cine MRI can be defined as follows: high field system; patient either in supine or sitting position; fast gradient echo sequence; midsagittal slice orientation; either a stack of slices or repeated measurements at the same slice position with the patient at rest or straining; image analysis using the pubococcygeal reference line.


All except two publications stress the usefulness of functional cine MRI in the evaluation of patients with organ descent and prolapse. This well accepted method allows for the visualization of all relevant structures in the anterior, middle and posterior compartment. It is especially useful in the detection of enteroceles, and provides a reliable postoperative follow-up tool. Isolated urinary or stool incontinence are not an indication for functional cine MRI, as is the case in patients with equivocal clinical findings. To date it does not allow for real 3D imaging of the pelvic floor or sufficient determination of fascial defects.


Functional cine MRI of the pelvic floor is a promising new imaging method for the detection of organ descent and prolapse in patients with equivocal clinical findings. The combination of function and morphology allows for an innovative view of the pelvic floor, and thus adds to our understanding of the various interactions of the structures.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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