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Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 2012 Oct;164(2):227-33. doi: 10.1016/j.ejogrb.2012.06.019. Epub 2012 Jul 5.

Proof of concept: differential effects of Valsalva and straining maneuvers on the pelvic floor.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Hochzirl Hospital, 6170 Zirl, Austria.



To prove a basic physiological principle in healthy women, demonstrating different movement patterns of diaphragm, pelvic floor, and muscular wall surrounding the abdominal cavity during a Valsalva maneuver as opposed to a straining maneuver, by means of real-time dynamic magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).


The study was performed at Hochzirl Hospital, Austria and Department of Radiology, Medical University Innsbruck, Austria. Four healthy women underwent MRI measurements in a 1.5-T whole body MR-scanner. Coronal, sagittal, and axial slices were acquired simultaneously and a dynamic MRI sequence was used to assess cranio-caudal movements of the diaphragm and pelvic floor and of concomitant changes in anterolateral abdominal muscle thickness and abdominal diameter at the umbilical level.


Both the Valsalva maneuver and the straining maneuver began with deep inspiration and downward movement of the diaphragm. During the exertion phase of both maneuvers, abdominal muscle thickness increased and abdominal diameter decreased. During the Valsalva maneuver, the pelvic floor moved cranially parallel to the diaphragm, whereas during the straining maneuver, the pelvic floor was markedly displaced caudally.


The Valsalva maneuver reflects an expiratory pattern with diaphragm and pelvic floor elevation, whereas during straining the pelvic floor descends.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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