Supportive tissues of the vagina with special reference to a fibrous skeleton in the perineum: A review

DOI: 10.4236/ojog.2014.43025   PDF   HTML   XML   3,538 Downloads   5,271 Views   Citations


With the aid of immunohistochemistry, the present review attempts to demonstrate the composite fibers and nerve topographical anatomy in the vaginal supportive tissues. Along the tendinous arch of the pelvic fasciae, distal parts of the pelvic plexus extend antero-inferiorly and issue nerves to the internal anal sphincter as well as the cavernous tissues. At the attachment of the levator ani muscle to the rectum, smooth muscles in the endopelvic fascia lining the levator ani merge with the longitudinal smooth muscle layer of the rectum to provide the conjoint longitudinal muscle coat or the longitudinal anal muscle (LAM: smooth muscle). However, at the rectovaginal interface, the longitudinal smooth muscle layer of the rectum continues to the LAM without any contribution of the endopelvic fascia. The bilateral masses of the perineal smooth muscles (PSMs) are connected by the perineal body, and the PSMs receive 1) the longitudinal anal muscle, 2) the internal and external anal sphincters and, 3) the perineal membrane lining the vestibular wall. Tensile stress from the levator ani seems to be transferred to the PSMs via the LAM. Because of their irregularly arrayed muscle fibers, instead of a synchronized contraction in response to nerve impulses, the PSMs are likely to act as a barrier, septum or protector against mechanical stress because, even without innervation, such smooth muscle fibers resist (not absorb) pressure, in accordance with Bayliss’ rule. The external anal sphincter, a strong striated muscle, inserts into the PSMs and seems to play a dynamic role in supporting the rectovaginal interface to maintain the antero-posterior length of the urogenital hiatus. However, we do not think that smooth muscles play an active traction role without cooperation from striated muscle. The fibrous skeleton composed of smooth muscle in the female perineum is explained in terms of a “catamaran” model.

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Sasaki, H. , Hinata, N. , Kurokawa, T. and Murakami, G. (2014) Supportive tissues of the vagina with special reference to a fibrous skeleton in the perineum: A review. Open Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 4, 144-157. doi: 10.4236/ojog.2014.43025.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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