Feasibility of a femoral nerve motor branch for transfer to the pudendal nerve for restoring continence: a cadaveric study

Laboratory investigation

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  • 1 Departments of Anatomy and Cell Biology,
  • 2 Urology, and
  • 3 Pharmacology, Temple University School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania;
  • 4 Department of Neurosurgery, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri; and
  • 5 Shriners Hospital for Children, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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Object

Nerve transfers are an effective means of restoring control to paralyzed somatic muscle groups and, recently, even denervated detrusor muscle. The authors performed a cadaveric pilot project to examine the feasibility of restoring control to the urethral and anal sphincters using a femoral motor nerve branch to reinnervate the pudendal nerve through a perineal approach.

Methods

Eleven cadavers were dissected bilaterally to expose the pudendal and femoral nerve branches. Pertinent landmarks and distances that could be used to locate these nerves were assessed and measured, as were nerve cross-sectional areas.

Results

A long motor branch of the femoral nerve was followed into the distal vastus medialis muscle for a distance of 17.4 ± 0.8 cm, split off from the main femoral nerve trunk, and transferred medially and superiorly to the pudendal nerve in the Alcock canal, a distance of 13.7 ± 0.71 cm. This was performed via a perineal approach. The cross-sectional area of the pudendal nerve was 5.64 ± 0.49 mm2, and the femoral nerve motor branch at the suggested transection site was 4.40 ± 0.41 mm2.

Conclusions

The use of a femoral nerve motor branch to the vastus medialis muscle for heterotopic nerve transfer to the pudendal nerve is surgically feasible, based on anatomical location and cross-sectional areas.

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Contributor Notes

Address correspondence to: Michael R. Ruggieri Sr., Ph.D., Temple University School of Medicine, 3400 North Broad Street, 715 OMS, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19140-5104. email: rugg@temple.edu.

Please include this information when citing this paper: published online July 15, 2011; DOI: 10.3171/2011.6.SPINE11163.

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