We hypothesized that anatomical changes in the pelvic floor muscles (PFM) could be detected using four-dimensional translabial ultrasound (4D TLUS) in patients with cervical (CC) or endometrial cancer (EC) who underwent pelvic radiotherapy (RT) as digital palpation may present sensitivity limitations.
This was a cross-sectional study that included 64 women (26 with CC and 38 with EC). PFM function was assessed by digital palpation, grading muscle strength according to the Modified Oxford Scale and by 4D TLUS. Ultrasonographic variables were: levator plate angle, hiatal area, puborectalis muscle thickness, puborectalis strain and levator ani muscle integrity. These variables were also correlated with clinical and sociodemographic data from all these patients. A 5% significance level was adopted.
When assessed by digital palpation, no significant difference was found in PFM strength between women with CC and those with EC (p = 0.747). However, when assessed by 4D TLUS, women with CC presented greater thickening of the left (p = 0.039) and right (p = 0.014) lower portion of the puborectalis muscle during PFM contraction compared to those with EC. After pooling the groups, higher cancer staging (p = 0.028) was associated with smaller narrowing in the symphysis-levator distance, and shorter RT finishing duration (< 60 months) was associated with higher thickening in the left (p = 0.029) and right (p = 0.013) upper portion of the puborectalis muscle during PFM contraction as well as a shorter menopause duration (p = 0.007 and p = 0.002, respectively).
Anatomical changes in the puborectalis muscle during PFM contraction were detected by 4D TLUS within gynecological cancer patients after pelvic RT.