Advances in basic science methodologies for clinical diagnosis in female stress urinary incontinence

Marwa Abdulaziz, Emily G. Deegan, Alex Kavanagh, Lynn Stothers, Denise Pugash, Andrew Macnab


We provide an overview of advanced imaging techniques currently being explored to gain greater understanding of the complexity of stress urinary incontinence (SUI) through better definition of structural anatomic data. Two methods of imaging and analysis are detailed for SUI with or without prolapse: 1) open magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with or without the use of reference lines; and 2) 3D reconstruction of the pelvis using MRI. An additional innovative method of assessment includes the use of near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS), which uses non-invasive photonics in a vaginal speculum to objectively evaluate pelvic floor muscle (PFM) function as it relates to SUI pathology. Advantages and disadvantages of these techniques are described. The recent innovation of open-configuration magnetic resonance imaging (MRO) allows images to be captured in sitting and standing positions, which better simulates states that correlate with urinary leakage and can be further enhanced with 3D reconstruction. By detecting direct changes in oxygenated muscle tissue, the NIRS vaginal speculum is able to provide insight into how the oxidative capacity of the PFM influences SUI. The small number of units able to provide patient evaluation using these techniques and their cost and relative complexity are major considerations, but if such imaging can optimize diagnosis, treatment allocation, and selection for surgery enhanced imaging techniques may prove to be a worthwhile and cost-effective strategy for assessing and treating SUI.

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