What Is the Anatomical Relationship of the Nerves in the Pelvis?

  • A. C. Kraima
  • C. J. H. van de Velde
  • M. C. DeRuiter


The pelvis is often considered to be a complex anatomical region. Due to the funnel-shaped pelvic cavity, there is a close anatomical relationship of the rectum to vital structures such as blood vessels, lymphatics and somatic and autonomic nerves. This, taken together with the relatively inaccessible location of the rectum, makes total mesorectal excision (TME) a challenging surgical procedure. The principles of TME surgery involve removal of the diseased rectum with the surrounding mesorectum as an en bloc specimen with an intact mesorectal fascia and preservation of the pelvic autonomic nerves [1]. Over the last decades, both oncological and functional outcomes of TME surgery have gained much attention. It is well known that surgical disruption of the autonomic and somatic nerves may result in postoperative urogenital and anorectal dysfunction, affecting the patient’s functional outcome [2]. If the oncological safety is not in danger, surgeons must preserve the autonomic and somatic nerves in order to warrant sufficient postoperative pelvic function.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. C. Kraima
    • 1
  • C. J. H. van de Velde
    • 2
  • M. C. DeRuiter
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Anatomy and EmbryologyLeiden University Medical CenterLeidenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of SurgeryLeiden University Medical CenterLeidenThe Netherlands

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