Center for Incontinence and Pelvic Floor Disorders Research
Female pelvic floor disorders are often misunderstood and too often go unrecognized by medical professionals. While a wide range of therapies are currently available, most women do not seek treatment, especially for incontinence, because they consider it a normal part of aging. Embarrassment may also lead many women to hide their incontinence from both doctors and family.
It is estimated that as many as 40% of women over the age of 60 have urinary incontinence; however, because of lack of awareness, many are underdiagnosed and underreported. The problem is compounded by a limited knowledge amongst medical professionals that the causes and treatment strategies for pelvic floor disorders are gender specific.
We are committed to educating women and medical professionals about female pelvic floor disorders. As part of this mission, we aim to:
- Conduct research studies that will determine the most effective treatments for women with pelvic floor disorders, such as prolapse and incontinence, as well as the optimal treatments for special populations.
- Critically review the value of diagnostic testing used in the evaluation of women with pelvic floor disorders.
- Educate medical professionals on the most effective therapies.
- Conduct research studies that look at the quality of life of the women who suffer from pelvic floor disorders.
- Educate women about female pelvic floor disorders so that they can manage these conditions without embarrassment or shame and seek treatment in an informed manner.
- Investigate aspects of the childbirth experience for risks that may lead to future pelvic organ dysfunction.
Our research program focus includes prevention, diagnosis and treatment of pelvic organ prolapse, urinary and fecal incontinence, and the symptoms associated with childbirth injury.
Division faculty have engaged in NIH funded research since 1996. We have been contributing members of two National Institutes of Health clinical trials networks since 2000. As investigators of the Pelvic Floor Disorders Network and the Urinary Incontinence Treatment Network, we have offered the women of western Pennsylvania early access to novel treatments, and they in turn they have generously helped us better understand their symptom burden and their priorities for treatments of their pelvic floor disorders. Our collaborators include experts in the disciplines of Urology, Gastroenterology, Physical Therapy, Psychiatry, Radiology, Physical Therapy, and Bio-mechanical Engineering, as well as Regenerative Medicine.
Our investigator-initiated research is supported by the National Institutes of Health, foundations, and private donors. We have a longstanding interest in understanding the role of prosthetic grafts in reconstructive surgery. In addition to conducting surgical trials comparing mesh augmented and traditional prolapse repairs, our translational research program focus includes the biomechanical and immunologic characteristics of mesh that may lead to complications. We are unique in our inclusion of a primate model to understanding the host response to grafts. Our extensive institutional biospecimen repository of pelvic biopsies, blood, urine, and explanted mesh from well-characterized women supports many of our laboratory studies.
Our research portfolio includes comparative effectiveness trials of surgical and non-surgical treatments for pelvic floor disorders including hysteropexy (uterine suspension) versus hysterectomy for prolapse repair, novel biofeedback techniques, lifestyle and behavior changes, neuromodulation and Botox injections for bladder and bowel symptoms. Our quality improvement projects and cost effectiveness analyses inform our clinical practices such as prophylactic antibiotics use, catheter use after surgery, and the unrecognized impact of surgery on cognitive function in the elderly and the frail.
We invite you to learn more about our currently enrolling studies.
Clinical and translational investigations conducted through The Center for Research Incontinence and Pelvic Floor Disorders have been funded by the grants from numerous sources including federal, institutional and foundation grants as well as private benefactors. We are grateful for all these sources of support:
- Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
- The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
- Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Health, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
- Magee-Womens Research Institute & Foundation Clinical Trainee Research Award (CTRA)
- Magee-Womens Research Institute & Foundation Breast Cancer Research & Education Fund
- PFD Research Foundation of the American Urogynecologic Society.
- Patients, friends and families of the Women’s Center for Bladder and Pelvic Health
Several studies at the center are currently recruiting participants. These studies are exploring various aspects of pelvic floor disorders in women. All of the studies have been reviewed and approved by the University of Pittsburgh Human Research Protection Office or an external Institutional Review Board.
If you would like more information or are interested in participating in any of the center’s studies, please contact one of the following research staff:
- Judy Gruss, RN (Research Coordinator: 412-641-5388)
- Lindsey Baranski MS (Research Coordinator: 412-641-7894)
- Jacqueline Noel MS (Research Coordinator: 412-641-6675)
- Cook Myosite Study
- Foot Stim Study
Pelvic Organ Prolapse
- Vaginal Estrogen and Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy in Women with Prolapse
- Pelvic Floor Tissue Study
- Mesh Biorepository Study: Insight into the Pathogenesis of Mesh Complications
- Mesh Control Study
- Anal Incontinence
Judy Gruss, RN
UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital
300 Halket Street Suite 5600
Pittsburgh, PA 15213