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"Pelvic neuro-visualization: an anatomical illustration of the autonomic pelvic nervous network in gynecologic surgery".

OBJECTIVE: During radical pelvic surgeries fibers of the autonomic pelvic nervous network can be accidentally damaged leading to significant visceral sequelae, which dramatically affect women's quality of life because of urinary, anorectal, and sexual postoperative dysfunctions.1 , 2 Direct visualization is one way to preserve hypogastric nerves(HNs), pelvic splanchnic nerves(PSNs), and the bladder branches from the inferior hypogastric plexus(IHP). However, the literature lacks critical photos and/or illustrations that are necessary to understand the precise anatomy needed to preserve the pelvic autonomic fibers.

DESIGN: Narrated laparoscopic video footage for identifying, dissecting, and preserving the autonomic nerve bundles during pelvic surgery.

SETTING: Tertiary level hospital - "IRCCS Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori", Milano, Italy.

INTERVENTIONS: Visceral pelvic innervation is established by the superior hypogastric plexus(SHP) located anteriorly to the aortic bifurcation and the median sacral vessels and carries mostly sympathetic fibers. SHP divides in front of the sacrum into the right and left HN. At the level of the paracervix, the HNs join the parasympathetic PSNs coming out from sacral root S2, S3, S4 to form the IHP.2-5 Here, we performed laparoscopic surgery, before "Laparoscopic Approach to Cervical Cancer" trial (LACC) era, identifying key anatomic landmarks useful to highlight the path of the most commonly encountered autonomic pelvic nerves in gynecologic radical surgery: during the narration we describe and illustrate the procedure to identify all autonomic pelvic nerves, the sympathetic fibers, the PSNs, and the bladder branch emerging from the IHP in order to preserve their anatomic and functional integrity. This technique is anatomically and surgically indicated for adequate removal of the parametrial issues and vagina while preserving the total pelvic nervous system.

CONCLUSION: Nerve-sparing surgery reduces bowel-, bladder- and sexual- dysfunction without decreasing surgical efficacy.1,2 To accomplish safe and effective surgery, comprehension of the three dimensional structure of the vascular and nerve anatomy in the pelvis is essential. This video provides a great resource to educate surgeons, especially the youngest ones, about the retroperitoneal nervous networking: we identified the autonomic nerve pathway from adjacent tissues along the pathway consisting of cardinal, sacro-uterine, rectouterine/vaginal, and vesico-uterine ligaments.

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