Engineering a revolution in pelvic floor disorder management

Using advanced imaging and biomechanical analysis to bring personalized medicine to pelvic floor reconstruction

3D Stress MRI-Based Model of Patient’s Prolapse
3D Stress MRI-Based Model of Patient's Prolapse

When a patient is diagnosed with congestive heart failure, cardiologists use echocardiography to determine the underlying cause of heart failure in that patient and equip them with information to target treatment.

Pelvic floor specialists in the University of Michigan Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology believe similar utilization of imaging technology could revolutionize treatment of pelvic floor disorders.

“Routine clinical evaluation of patients with pelvic floor disorders historically has been limited to making the diagnosis,” says John DeLancey, MD, director of the Pelvic Floor Research Group at the University of Michigan. “We know that more effective, personalized care is possible through a better understanding of the biomechanical factors at play in each individual’s anatomy.”

Dr. DeLancey and his colleagues have been studying how new imaging techniques may enable better treatment planning.

“We have been using 3D stress MRI to better understand specific biomechanical factors affecting each individual’s prolapse,” says Dr. DeLancey. “Then we are developing biomechanical modeling techniques to perform proposed operations virtually, allowing us to see how effective a procedure may be for that individual patient.”

The team’s initial experiences have been positive, indicating precision medicine’s “time” may have arrived in the field of pelvic floor reconstruction.

Abdominal Sacralcopopoexy vs Michigan 4 Wall SSLS graph

“The knowledge gained from our biomechanics research has allowed us to achieve the same type of results that have historically been seen with the use of mesh, but using the patient’s own tissue,” says Dr. DeLancey.

Computer Simulation of Prolapse
Computer Simulation of Prolapse

U-M’s innovative imaging techniques and biomechanical analyses were designed through a long-standing collaboration between U-M gynecologists and biomechanical engineers in the University of Michigan School of Engineering.

“This type of innovation would not have been possible without the type of interdisciplinary collaboration that happens in U-M’s unique academic environment,” says Dr. DeLancey. “We’re honored to be leading this groundbreaking work, and look forward to further research bringing us closer to giving access to this level of care to the thousands of women each year who suffer from pelvic prolapse disorder.”

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