Real-time measurement of the vaginal pressure profile using an optical-fiber-based instrumented speculum

Luke A. Parkinson, Caroline E. Gargett, Natharnia Young, Anna Rosamilia, Aditya V. Vashi, Jerome A. Werkmeister, Anthony W. Papageorgiou, John W. Arkwright

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9 Citations (Scopus)


Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) occurs when changes to the pelvic organ support structures cause descent or herniation of the pelvic organs into the vagina. Clinical evaluation of POP is a series of manual measurements known as the pelvic organ prolapse quantification (POP-Q) score. However, it fails to identify the mechanism causing POP and relies on the skills of the practitioner. We report on a modified vaginal speculum incorporating a double-helix fiber-Bragg grating structure for distributed pressure measurements along the length of the vagina and include preliminary data in an ovine model of prolapse. Vaginal pressure profiles were recorded at 10 Hz as the speculum was dilated incrementally up to 20 mm. At 10-mm dilation, nulliparous sheep showed higher mean pressures (102±46 mmHg) than parous sheep (39±23 mmHg) (P=0.02), attributable largely to the proximal (cervical) end of the vagina. In addition to overall pressure variations, we observed a difference in the distribution of pressure that related to POP-Q measurements adapted for the ovine anatomy, showing increased tissue laxity in the upper anterior vagina for parous ewes. We demonstrate the utility of the fiber-optic instrumented speculum for rapid distributed measurement of vaginal support.

Original languageEnglish
Article number127008
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biomedical Optics
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016


  • fiber-Bragg gratings
  • fiber-optic sensors
  • pelvic support
  • prolapsed
  • vaginal pressure profile

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