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Shifting and Shaping Perceptions: Towards the Characterization and Literacy of Female Pelvic Organ Support

Sinex, Deanna Christine Easley (2021) Shifting and Shaping Perceptions: Towards the Characterization and Literacy of Female Pelvic Organ Support. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP) is a pelvic floor condition characterized by the unnatural descent of pelvic organs into the vagina. It occurs as the result of compromised connective tissues and musculature following vaginal delivery and/or changes in tissue composition due to aging. Approximately 50% of women in the United States experience some degree of POP during their lifetime, with symptoms that include altered urination and defecation, physical discomfort, depression, and anxiety. Over the last decade, POP treatments have gained public notoriety due to surgical complications and recurrence of prolapse after surgical repair. Both outcomes stem, in part, from gaps in knowledge regarding the complex interactions of pelvic viscera, tissues, and musculature, and is exacerbated by the significant time span between events surrounding vaginal birth injuries and symptomatic prolapse.
Over the last century, fields such as cardiovascular medicine and orthopedics have made significant strides to improve the human condition through the application of biomechanics, diagnostic imaging techniques, and modeling. Such methods have been used to reliably differentiate normal and diseased anatomy with respect to orientation, location, and other geometric attributes. In contrast, urogynecology remains decades behind as a result of a failure to adopt new interdisciplinary methods, limiting our ability to effectively treat POP. Thus,

approximately 80% of women with symptomatic POP choose to suffer in silence. This is troubling, given that POP and related disorders will become increasingly prevalent due to the advancing age of the global population.
This dissertation explores the assessment and development of diagnostic tools that improve our ability to quantify the position of the vagina with respect to physiologic changes that may occur over the lifespan within the normal range. These tools provide valuable information regarding the physical changes that occur over time and the differences between populations while serving as a potential standard by which pelvic anatomy can be quantified. Furthermore, this work explores our knowledge, perceptions, and attitudes regarding female pelvic health to challenge misconceptions surrounding normal and abnormal physiological functions, foster attitudes of empathy and acceptance for disorders, and improve health literacy by illustrating the impact that it has on lives worldwide.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Sinex, Deanna Christine Easleydce14@pitt.edudce14
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairAbramowitch,
Committee MemberBorovetz, Harvey
Committee MemberClark,
Committee MemberHakim,
Committee MemberMenon,
Committee MemberMoalli,
Committee MemberZhang, Yongjie
Date: 13 June 2021
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 25 February 2021
Approval Date: 13 June 2021
Submission Date: 8 April 2021
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 282
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Swanson School of Engineering > Bioengineering
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: female pelvic health bioengineering MRI analysis
Date Deposited: 13 Jun 2021 17:18
Last Modified: 13 Jun 2021 17:18


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