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Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol. 2012 Jul;40(1):14-27. doi: 10.1002/uog.10131. Epub 2012 Jun 15.

Ultrasound in the investigation of posterior compartment vaginal prolapse and obstructed defecation.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Sydney Medical School Nepean, University of Sydney, Penrith, Australia.


Recent developments in diagnostic imaging have made gynecologists, colorectal surgeons and gastroenterologists realize as never before that they share a common interest in anorectal and pelvic floor dysfunction. While we often may be using different words to describe the same phenomenon (e.g. anismus/vaginismus) or attributing different meanings to the same words (e.g. rectocele), we look after patients with problems that transcend the borders of our respective specialties. Like no other diagnostic modality, imaging helps us understand each other and provides new insights into conditions we all need to learn to investigate better in order to improve clinical management. In this review we attempt to show what modern ultrasound imaging can contribute to the diagnostic work-up of patients with posterior vaginal wall prolapse, obstructed defecation and rectal intussusception/prolapse. In summary, it is evident that translabial/perineal ultrasound can serve as a first-line diagnostic tool in women with such complaints, replacing defecation proctography and MR proctography in a large proportion of female patients. This is advantageous for the women themselves because ultrasound is much better tolerated, as well as for healthcare systems since sonographic imaging is much less expensive. However, there is a substantial need for education, which currently remains unmet.

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