3 Tests That Can Diagnose Pelvic Muscle Problems
Pelvic floor muscles are involved in a number of critical functions. These muscles help to regulate bowel movements, urinate, and enhance sexual pleasure. Changes in the strength or structure of the pelvic floor muscles can create some serious discomfort.
Doctors can use a variety of tests to determine if you are suffering from a pelvic floor disorder. Understanding these tests will help you feel more confident undergoing diagnostic testing to identify the presence and extent of pelvic muscle damage.
1. Pelvic Examination
The most commonly used diagnostic tool available to medical professionals in identifying pelvic muscle damage is a pelvic examination. Since women are especially vulnerable to pelvic muscle damage, gynecologists check for this damage during routine pelvic examinations.
Bulges or soft spots that indicate a prolapse of the pelvic muscles can be felt during routine examinations. The doctor will monitor any changes in the size or shape of these bulges and soft spots to help determine when medical intervention is needed to treat pelvic muscle damage.
2. Anorectal Manometry
A slightly more invasive diagnostic tool used by medical professionals in evaluating pelvic floor damage is an anorectal manometry. Although the name may sound intimidating, the test is fairly simple to perform.
A small catheter is inserted into the rectum. A balloon attached to the end of the catheter is then filled gradually with air. The larger the balloon gets, the more the muscles in your pelvic floor contract.
The catheter is connected to a device that measures the strength of the contractions. This information will let your doctor know if your pelvic floor muscles are weak and in need of surgical intervention to eliminate incontinence or other problems.
3. Dynamic Defecography
Another test used to diagnose pelvic muscle disorders is known as a dynamic defecography. This test allows your doctor to obtain MRI images of your pelvic floor muscles while they are in use.
A thick barium paste will be inserted into the rectum. Once the paste fills the rectum, the nerves inside the intestinal tract signal the beginning of a bowel movement, just as they would under normal conditions.
You will be asked to sit on a special toilet equipped with imaging equipment to expel as much of the paste as possible. Although a dynamic defecography can be intimidating for some, the procedure is virtually painless and highly accurate in allowing for the identification of pelvic floor muscle dysfunction.