Effects of pelvic floor muscle contraction on anal canal pressure

Bikram S. Padda, Sung Ae Jung, Dolores Pretorius, Charles W. Nager, Debbie Den-Boer, Ravinder K. Mittal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


The role of pelvic floor muscle contraction in the genesis of anal canal pressure is not clear. Recent studies have suggested that vaginal distension increases pelvic floor muscle contraction. We studied the effects of vaginal distension on anal canal pressure in 15 nullipara asymptomatic women. Anal pressure, rest, and squeeze were measured using station pull-through manometry techniques with no vaginal probe, a 10-mm vaginal probe, and a 25-mm vaginal probe in place. Rest and squeeze vaginal pressures were significantly higher when measured with the 25-mm probe compared with the 10-mm probe, suggesting that vaginal distension enhances pelvic floor contraction. In the presence of the 25-mm vaginal probe, rest and squeeze anal pressures in the proximal part of the anal canal were significantly higher compared with no vaginal probe or the 10-mm vaginal probe. On the other hand, distal anal pressures were not affected by any of the vaginal probes. Ultrasound imaging of the pelvic floor revealed that vaginal distension increased the anterior-posterior length of the puborectalis muscle. Atropine at 15 μg/kg had no influence on the rest and squeeze anal pressures with or without vaginal distension. Our data suggest that pelvic floor contractions increase pressures in the proximal part of the anal canal, which is anatomically surrounded by the puborectalis muscle. We propose that pelvic floor contraction plays an important role in the fecal continence mechanism by increasing anal canal pressure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)G565-G571
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2007


  • Anal manometry
  • Atropine
  • Vaginal manometry


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