Purpose: Anal sphincter atrophy is associated with a poor clinical outcome of sphincter repair in patients with faecal incontinence. Preoperative assessment of the sphincters is therefore relevant. External anal sphincter (EAS) atrophy can be detected by endoanal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), but not by conventional endoanal ultrasonography (EUS). Three-dimensional EUS allows multiplanar imaging of the anal sphincters and thus enables more reliable anal sphincter measurements. The aim of the present study was to establish whether 3D EUS measurements can be used to detect EAS atrophy. For this purpose 3D EUS measurements were compared with endoanal MRI measurements. Methods: Patients with symptoms of faecal incontinence underwent 3D EUS and endoanal MRI. Internal anal sphincter (IAS) and EAS defects were assessed on 3D EUS and endoanal MRI. EAS atrophy was determined on endoanal MRI. The following measurements were performed: EAS length, thickness and area. Furthermore, EAS volume was determined on 3D EUS and compared with EAS thickness and area measured on endoanal MRI. Results: Eighteen parous women (median age 56 years, range 32-80) with symptoms of faecal incontinence were included. Agreement between 3D EUS and endoanal MRI was 61% for IAS defects and 88% for EAS defects. EAS atrophy was seen in all patients on endoanal MRI. Correlation between the two methods for EAS thickness, length and area was poor. In addition, correlation was also poor for EAS volume determined on 3D EUS, and EAS thickness and area measured on endoanal MRI. Conclusion: Three-dimensional EUS and endoanal MRI are comparable for detecting EAS defects. However, correlation between the two methods for EAS thickness, length and area is poor. This is also the case for EAS volume determined on 3D EUS and EAS thickness and area measured on endoanal MRI. Three-dimensional EUS can be used for detecting EAS defects, but no 3D EUS measurements are suitable parameters for assessing EAS atrophy.
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