High-density surface electromyographic assessment of pelvic floor hypertonicity in IC/BPS patients: a pilot study

Nicholas Dias, Chuan Zhang, Christopher P. Smith, H. Henry Lai, Yingchun Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Introduction and hypothesis: To assess the feasibility of objectively assessing pelvic floor hypertonicity (PFH) in women with interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome (IC/BPS) using an intra-vaginal high-density surface electromyography (HD-sEMG) probe. Methods: Seven female subjects (mean age 44 ± 13 years) with a prior diagnosis of IC/BPS were recruited. A full digital pelvic examination was administered to identify hypertonic muscles. Intra-vaginal HD-sEMG was acquired during rest. Root-mean-squared (RMS) amplitude during rest was calculated for each channel to define a hypertonicity index and hypertonic zone. Innervation zones (IZs) were identified from the bipolar mapping of decomposed HD-sEMG signals and summarized into an IZ distribution mapping. Results: Of the seven subjects recruited, five had normal pelvic floor muscle tone and two exhibited hypertonicity upon muscle palpation. Subjects with PFH demonstrated a higher hypertonicity index (12.6 ± 3.5 vs. 4.5 ± 1.2) in sessions 1 and 2. The hypertonic zone defined by the 64-channel RMS mapping coincided with the digital pelvic examination findings. The corresponding IZs were localized for each motor unit. The hypertonicity indices between two consecutive sessions were well correlated (CC = 0.95). Conclusions: This study represents the first effort to employ intra-vaginal HD-sEMG to assess PFH in women with IC/BPS. Our results demonstrate the feasibility of HD-sEMG to provide a quantitative diagnosis of PFH and the precise localization of hypertonic muscles and IZs. The proposed HD-sEMG-based techniques provide promising tools for clinical diagnosis and treatment of PFH, such as the personalized guidance of BoNT injections.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1221-1228
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Urogynecology Journal
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2021


  • Botulinum neurotoxin injection
  • EMG
  • Innervation zone
  • Interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome
  • Pelvic floor muscles


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