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Multimodal imaging assessment and histologic correlation of the female rat pelvic floor muscles’ anatomy

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Pelvic floor disorders negatively impact millions of women worldwide. Although there is a strong epidemiological association with childbirth, the mechanisms leading to the dysfunction of the integral constituents of the female pelvic floor, including pelvic floor skeletal muscles, are not well understood. This is in part due to the constraints associated with directly probing these muscles, which are located deep in the pelvis. Thus, experimental models and non-invasive techniques are essential for advancing knowledge of various phenotypes of pelvic floor muscle injury and pathogenesis of muscle dysfunction, as well as developing minimally invasive approaches for the delivery of novel therapeutics. The most widely used animal model for pelvic floor disorders is the rat. However, the radiological anatomy of rat pelvic floor muscles has not been described. To remedy this gap, the current study provides the first detailed description of the female rat pelvic floor muscles' radiological appearance on MR and ultrasound images, validated by correlation with gross anatomy and histology. We also demonstrate that ultrasound guidance can be used to target rat pelvic floor muscles for possible interventional therapies.

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