The rhabdosphincter of the male urethra is an omega-shaped loop of striated muscle fibers that surrounds the membranous urethra at its lateral and anterior aspects. We investigated whether this muscle can be visualized by means of three-dimensional ultrasound to define morphological and dynamic ultrasound criteria. We examined the rhabdosphincter of the male urethra in 77 patients by means of this new imaging technique; 37 patients presented with urinary stress incontinence after transurethral resection of the prostate or radical prostatectomy while 40 were fully continent after radical prostatectomy and served as a control group. Contractility of the muscle was quantified by a specially defined parameter (rhabdosphincter-urethra distance). The anatomical arrangement and the contractions of the rhabdosphincter-loop could be clearly visualized in three-dimensional transrectal and transurethral ultrasound; during contraction the rhabdosphincter retracts the urethra, pulling it towards the rectum. We detected defects and postoperative scarrings in the majority of the patients with postoperative urinary stress incontinence. Furthermore, the patients presented with thinnings in parts of the muscle and atrophies of the rhabdosphincter. The rhabdosphincter-urethra distance was significantly lower in the incontinent group than in the continent group (59 vs. 1.42 mm). Our study shows that the rhabdosphincter of the male urethra can be visualized by means of three-dimensional transrectal ultrasound. The sonographic pathomorphological findings of postoperative urinary stress incontinence are well correlated well with the clinical symptoms.
Useful keywords (using NLM MeSH Indexing)
Urinary Incontinence, Stress/ultrasonography
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