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Keywords:

  • levator ani muscle;
  • MRI;
  • pubovisceral;
  • pelvic floor

Abstract

Aims

Defects in the pubovisceral portion of the levator ani muscle are seen with MR imaging. This study aims to determine interrater reliability of physical examination in detecting these defects, and to validate findings from physical examination using comparisons with MR images.

Methods

Two examiners palpated the pubovisceral muscles of 29 women to assess for defects in this muscle. Each examiner was blinded to the others findings. MR scans were acquired on a further 24 women after structured clinical examination by one examiner. These images were read to determine pubovisceral muscle defects, blinded to patient identifiers. Agreement between raters and between MR imaging and clinical examination were calculated.

Results

The two examiners had positive agreement (presence of a defect) of 72.7% and negative agreement (absence of a defect) of 83.3%. The positive agreement between physical examination and MR imaging was 27.3% and the negative agreement 86.5%.

Conclusion

The structured physical examination to detect defects in the pubovisceral portion of the levator ani muscle can be learned as shown by good interrater agreement. However, examination alone underestimates these defects compared with MR imaging. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.