The axial location of structural regions in the urethra: a magnetic resonance study in nulliparous women

Obstet Gynecol. 2003 Nov;102(5 Pt 1):1039-45. doi: 10.1016/j.obstetgynecol.2003.04.001.


Objective: To define and quantify the appearance and location of distinct regions of the bladder neck and urethra by using axial magnetic resonance images from healthy, continent, nulliparous women.

Methods: Seventy-eight asymptomatic, healthy, nulliparous women (mean age 29.2 +/- 5.4 years) volunteered for this study. All women were proven continent on urodynamic examination. Axial proton density magnetic resonance images of the pelvic floor were analyzed at 5-mm intervals. A geometric origin was established at the internal urethral meatus. The presence or absence of each of six structural regions--the bladder base, bladder neck, striated urethral sphincter, compressor urethrae and urethrovaginal sphincter, perineal membrane, and distal urethra--was then noted in each more distal image. The proportion of women in whom a structural region was seen at each 5-mm interval was recorded.

Results: The striated urogenital sphincter was observed at 5-25 mm distal to the bladder base. It was observed 10 and 15 mm below the bladder base in 91% (95% confidence interval [CI] 85%, 98%) and 99% (95% CI 97%, 100%), respectively, of all women. The perineal membrane, marking the distal end of the muscular urethra, was located 20-35 mm distal to the bladder base. The length of the muscular region of the urethra ranged from 20 to 35 mm (mean 24 mm, 95% CI 24, 25 mm).

Conclusion: Magnetic resonance images allow the normal appearance and location of urethral and bladder neck structures to be quantified in healthy, continent, nulliparous women.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Parity
  • Pelvic Floor / anatomy & histology
  • Reference Values
  • Urethra / anatomy & histology*
  • Urinary Bladder / anatomy & histology*