Reliability and validity of pelvic floor muscle displacement measurements during voluntary contractions

Helene Moser, Helena Luginbuehl, Jean-Pierre Baeyens, Lorenz Radlinger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


INTRODUCTION AND HYPOTHESIS: Understanding the functioning of pelvic floor muscles (PFM) is crucial in female PFM rehabilitation. The aim of this study was to determine the intra-session retest reliability and validity to evaluate the quantity of PFM displacement.

METHODS: This cross-sectional observational study examined the PFM displacement of 17 young healthy nulliparous women in the midsagittal plane. Three maximal voluntary contractions (MVCs) and five fast voluntary contractions (FVCs) were simultaneously examined with an electromagnetic tracking system (ETS) and transabdominal ultrasound (TAUS) and expressed in millimeters (mean, SD). To evaluate reliability and validity, the analysis of variance, intraclass coefficient (2,1), standard error of measurement (SEM), and minimal detectable difference (MDD) were calculated.

RESULTS: Maximal voluntary contractions and FVCs in supine position measured by an ETS (TAUS) showed a displacement of MVC: 3.5 ± 1.9 mm (7.8 ± 4.5 mm), FVC: 3.5 ± 2.4 mm (7.6 ± 5.3 mm), and during standing of MVC: 5.2 ± 1.6 mm (9.4 ± 3.8 mm) and FVC: 4.8 ± 2.5 mm (9.7 ± 4.1 mm). Intraclass correlation for the ETS (TAUS) measurement varied between 0.79 and 0.89 (0.61 and 0.74), SEM 0.52 and 1.03 mm (1.54 and 3.2 mm), and MDD 1.54 and 3.2 mm (6.64 and 7.53 mm). The correlation between an ETS and TAUS varied between 0.53 and 0.67.

CONCLUSIONS: For MVC and FVC, ETS measurements are highly reliable and TAUS measurements are moderately reliable for both contraction types. The correlation between the TAUS and ETS measurements is moderate. An ETS seems to be a reliable and valid measurement tool for evaluating PFM displacement during voluntary contractions. In future studies, the reproducibility and validity of ETS measurements need to be investigated in impact activities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2093-2100
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Urogynecology Journal
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019


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