Can Abdominal Hypopressive Technique Change Levator Hiatus Area?: A 3-Dimensional Ultrasound Study

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This study aimed to evaluate the levator hiatus area (LHA) at rest and during the performance of maximal pelvic floor muscle (PFM) contractions, during the abdominal hypopressive technique (AHT), and during the combination of PFM contractions (PFMCs) and the AHT. The study included 17 healthy nulliparous women who had no history of pelvic floor disorders. The LHA was evaluated with the patients in the lithotomy position. After a physiotherapist instructed the patients on the proper performance of the PFM and AHT exercises, 1 gynecologist performed the 3-dimensional translabial ultrasound examinations. The LHA was measured with the patients at rest. The PFMC alone, the AHT alone or the AHT in combination with a PFMC with 30 seconds of rest between the evaluations were performed. Each measurement was performed 2 times, and the mean value was used for statistical analysis. The Wilcoxon test was used to test the differences between the 2 maneuvers. Similar values were observed when comparing the LHA of the PFM at rest (12.2 ± 2.4) cm2 and during the AHT (11.7 ± 2.6) cm2 (P = 0.227). The AHT+ PFMC (10.2 ± 1.9) cm2 demonstrated lower values compared with AHT alone (11.7 ± 2.6) cm2 (P = 0.002). When comparing the PFMC (10.4 ± 2.1) cm2 with the AHT + PFMC (10.2 ± 1.9) cm2, no significant difference (P = 0.551) was observed. During PFMC, the constriction was 1.8 cm2; during the AHT, the constriction was 0.5 cm2; and during the AHT + PFMC, it was 2 cm2. The LHA assessed by 3-dimensional ultrasound did not significantly change with AHT. These results support the theory that AHT does not strengthen PFM.

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