High resolution magnetic resonance imaging of urethral anatomy in continent nulliparous pregnant women

Eur J Radiol. 2011 Dec;80(3):736-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ejrad.2010.08.046. Epub 2010 Oct 2.


Introduction: To quantify the distribution of morphologic appearances of urethral anatomy and measure variables of urethral sphincter anatomy in continent, nulliparous, pregnant women by high resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Materials and methods: We studied fifteen women during their first pregnancy. We defined and quantified bladder neck and urethral morphology on axial and sagittal MR images from healthy, continent women.

Results: The mean (±standard deviation) total transverse urethral diameter, anterior-posterior diameter, unilateral striated sphincter muscle thickness, and striated sphincter length were 15±2 mm (range: 12-19 mm), 15±2 mm (range: 11-20 mm), 2±1 mm (range: 1-4 mm), and 13±3 mm (range: 9-18 mm) respectively. The mean (±standard deviation) total urethral length on sagittal scans was 22±3 mm (range: 17.6-26.4 mm).

Discussion: Advances in MR technique combined with anatomical and histological findings will provide an insight to understand how changes in urethral anatomy might affect the continence mechanisms in pregnant and non-pregnant, continent or incontinent individuals.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Enhancement / methods*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Pregnancy
  • Reference Values
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Urethra / anatomy & histology*
  • Young Adult