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Neurourol Urodyn. 2018 Feb;37(2):658-665. doi: 10.1002/nau.23371. Epub 2017 Jul 26.

Postprostatectomy incontinence is related to pelvic floor displacements observed with trans-perineal ultrasound imaging.

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School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.
Department of Urology, Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital, Brisbane, Australia.



To investigate the relationship between post-prostatectomy incontinence and dynamic features of activation of specific pelvic floor muscles in addition to anatomical parameters of the urethra.


Forty-two men aged 66 (7) years (incontinent [N = 19] and continent [N = 23]) who had undergone prostatectomy participated. Transperineal ultrasound imaging was used to record sagittal images of pelvic structures during involuntary coughing and sustained maximal voluntary contractions. Imaging data were analyzed to calculate displacements of pelvic floor landmarks associated with activation of the puborectalis, striated urethral sphincter, and bulbocavernosus muscles. Anatomical features of functional urethral length and the resting position of the ano-rectal and urethra-vesical junctions were calculated. A principal component analysis and multiple logistic regression were used to consider which combinations of variables best distinguish between men with and without incontinence.


Five principal components were identified that together explained 72.0% of the data. Two principal components that represented (i) striated urethral sphincter activation and (ii) bulbocavernosus and puborectalis muscle activation were significantly different between participants with and without incontinence. Together these components correctly identified 88.1% of incontinent men, with a specificity and sensitivity of 91.3% and 84.2%, respectively. Poor function of the bulbocavernosus and puborectalis muscles could be compensated by good striated urethral sphincter function, but the bulbocavernosus and puborectalis muscles had less potential to compensate for poor striated urethral sphincter function.


Dynamic features of pelvic floor muscle activation, particularly shortening of the striated urethral sphincter during cough and voluntary contraction, are related to continence status after prostatectomy.


pelvic floor; post-prostatectomy incontinence; prostate cancer; prostatectomy; ultrasound imaging


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