Introduction and hypothesis: The aim of this study was to evaluate pelvic floor dysfunction and anatomical signs of pelvic organ prolapse (POP) in patients with levator ani muscle (LAM) trauma compared with patients with an intact LAM 1 year postpartum.
Methods: In a prospective case-control study, primiparous women after vaginal delivery, with LAM trauma diagnosed on 3D ultrasound, were included in the case group. Controls consisted of patients who fulfilled the same inclusion criteria but had an intact levator. All women were investigated 1 year postpartum in respect of bladder, bowel, prolapse, and sexual function using the Australian Pelvic Floor Questionnaire. POP was assessed according to the Pelvic Organ Prolapse Quantification (POP-Q) system and pelvic floor muscle strength using the Oxford Grading Scale.
Results: Forty patients were included: 20 with and 20 without levator trauma. Urinary symptoms were significantly more frequent in women with LAM trauma compared with controls (p = 0.01). The two groups were comparable in respect of bowel, sexual, and prolapse symptoms (p = 0.24, p = 0.60, p = 0.99 respectively). Unlike POP stages II and III, POP stage I was significantly more common in LAM trauma patients (n = 19, 95 %) than in controls (n = 10, 50 %) (p =0.003). A positive association was noted between POP stage I and LAM trauma (RR = 7.2). The involvement of multiple compartments was significantly more frequent in cases than in controls (p = 0.003).
Conclusions: Except for urinary symptoms, LAM trauma was asymptomatic in nearly all patients 1 year postpartum. However, POP stage I involving multiple compartments occurred more frequently in LAM trauma patients than in controls.