Female pelvic floor biomechanics: bridging the gap

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Abstract

Purpose of review

The pelvic floor is a complex assembly of connective tissues and striated muscles that simultaneously counteracts gravitational forces, inertial forces, and intra-abdominal pressures while maintaining the position of the pelvic organs. In 30% of women, injury or failure of the pelvic floor results in pelvic organ prolapse. Surgical treatments have high recurrence rates, due, in part, to a limited understanding of physiologic loading conditions. It is critical to apply biomechanics to help elucidate how altered loading conditions of the pelvis contribute to the development of pelvic organ prolapse and to define surgeries to restore normal support.

Recent findings

Evidence suggests the ewe is a potential animal model for studying vaginal properties and that uterosacral and cardinal ligaments experience significant creep, which may be affecting surgical outcomes. A new method of measuring ligament displacements in vivo was developed, and finite element models that simulate urethral support, pelvic floor dynamics, and the impact of episiotomies on the pelvic floor were studied.

Summary

The current review highlights some contributions over the past year, including mechanical testing and the creation of models, which are used to understand pelvic floor changes with loading and the impact of surgical procedures, to illustrate how biomechanics is being utilized.

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