Ultrasound imaging of the pelvic floor: Where are we going?


  • Eric Rovner led the review process.

  • Conflict of interest: none.


We produced a non systematic review of ultrasound imaging of the pelvic floor in women with urinary incontinence (UI) and/or pelvic organ prolapse (POP).

We have searched the PubMed and Embase databases for the following PICO question: women; imaging; urinary incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, pelvic floor, pelvic floor muscle, pelvic floor muscle training; physical examination, no imaging; diagnosis, prognosis, outcome. The production of a systematic review was deemed impossible based on the type and quality of the published evidence.

Clinical research focused on the pathophysiology of the UI and POP looking relation between anatomic abnormalities, childbirth, the risk of UI or POP, the outcome of conservative treatment and reconstructive surgery. Published papers fall into the remits of diagnostic studies but often fail to comply with the recommendations of the STARD initiative. Most published evidence remains the product of a single institution effort and confirmatory studies are rarely found. Imaging studies in patients with UI did not provide evidence of any clinical benefit in the management of patients. In patients with POP, interesting correlations have been identified such as between childbirth, dimension of levator hiatus, avulsion of levator ani and risk of prolapse, but the non clinical benefit of pelvic floor imaging could still not be identified.

Research on pelvic floor imaging requires a coordinated, international, multicentre effort to improve internal and external validity of imaging techniques, confirm observations published by single institutions and provide health technology assessment of imaging in the management of UI or POP patients. Neurourol. Urodynam. Neurourol. Urodynam. 30:729–734, 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.