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Ultrasonographic Evaluation of Pelvic Organ Support During Pregnancy

Stær-Jensen, Jette MD; Siafarikas, Franziska MD; Hilde, Gunvor PT; Bø, Kari PT, PhD; Engh, Marie Ellström MD, PhD

doi: 10.1097/AOG.0b013e318299f62c
Original Research

OBJECTIVE: To investigate whether pregnancy affects levator hiatus dimensions and the position and mobility of the bladder neck and the levator ani muscle in nulliparous pregnant women.

METHODS: In the present study, 274 nulliparous pregnant women were examined at 21 weeks and 37 weeks of gestation using three-dimensional and four-dimensional transperineal ultrasonography at rest, during contraction, and during Valsalva maneuver. Levator hiatus dimensions were the anteroposterior diameter, the transverse diameter, and the area measured in rendered images. Positions of the bladder neck and levator plate were analyzed in the midsagittal plane, and mobility was calculated as displacement of the bladder neck or levator plate from rest to contraction or from rest to Valsalva.

RESULTS: A significant increase for all levator hiatus dimension measurements was found from 21 weeks to 37 weeks of gestation. The most marked change was found for levator hiatus area at rest and during Valsalva maneuver, in which the mean area was increased by 17.1% (11.7–13.7 cm2) and 21.4% (15.4–18.7 cm2), respectively. Bladder neck mobility changed significantly during pregnancy. The most marked change was seen from rest to contraction (mean –14 mm, standard deviation 0.4).

CONCLUSIONS: An increase of all hiatal dimensions as well as bladder neck mobility was found from 21 weeks to 37 weeks of gestation in nulliparous pregnant women. The findings indicate that the changes in pelvic organ support are not solely caused by delivery, but also by physiologic changes during pregnancy.


Supplemental Digital Content is Available in the Text.Both levator hiatus dimensions and bladder neck mobility increase during pregnancy.

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Akershus University Hospital, Lørenskog, and the University of Oslo, Faculty Division Akershus University Hospital, and the Department of Sports Medicine, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Oslo, Norway.

Corresponding author: Jette Stær-Jensen, MD, Akershus University Hospital, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Sykehusveien 25 Lørenskog, Norway 1478; e-mail:

Financial Disclosure The authors did not report any potential conflicts of interest.

Supported by grants from the Norwegian South-Eastern Regional Health Authority.

The authors thank Kristin Gjestland for image analysis and midwife Tone Breines Simonsen for recruiting participants and administering clinical appointments and electronic questionnaires.

Presented as an abstract at the 37th annual meeting of the International Urogynecological Association, September 4–8, 2012, Brisbane, Australia.

© 2013 by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.