Supplementary Material for: Comparative Anatomy of the Ovine and Female Pelvis

Background: Pelvic organ prolapse affects half of vaginally parous women. Several animal models are used to study its pathophysiology and treatment. Sheep are interesting because they develop spontaneously prolapse with similar risk factors as women and can be used for vaginal surgery. This study describes ovine pelvis anatomy and compares it to women's pelvis to provide anatomical tools for translational researchers. Methods: MRI, pelvic dissections, and histology were used for detailed macro- and microscopic analysis of relevant anatomical structures in 6 nulliparous ewes. Results: Although sheep are quadrupeds, the gross and microscopic anatomies are similar to the female pelvis. Principal differences are the shape and its orientation, the absence of the sacrospinous ligament and the internal obturator. The levator ani (except for the puborectalis) and the coccygeus muscle are present, yet the latter is more developed - coinciding with the tail. The dimensions and morphology of the ovine vagina is comparable. The retropubic and the rectovaginal space are accessible transvaginally. There is a wide expression of estrogen receptors with low or absent immunoreactivity in the urethral epithelium, bladder, anus and internal anal sphincter. Conclusion: The ovine pelvic floor has many anatomical and ultrastructural similarities to the female pelvic floor.