Topography and landmarks for the nerve supply to the levator ani and its relevance to pelvic floor pathologies

Loukas M, Joseph S, Etienne D, Linganna S, Hallner B, Tubbs RS.Topography and landmarks for the nerve supply to the levator ani and its relevance to pelvic floor pathologies.Clin Anat. 2016 May;29(4):516-23. doi: 10.1002/ca.22668.

ABSTRACT

The aim of this study was to explore the anatomical variations of the nerve to the levator ani (LA) and to relate these findings to LA dysfunction. One hundred fixed human female cadavers were dissected using transabdominal, gluteal, and perineal approaches, resulting in two hundred dissections of the sacral plexus. The pudendal nerve and the sacral nerve roots were traced from their origin at the sacral foramina to their termination. All nerves contributing to the innervation of the LA were considered to be the nerve to the LA. Based on the spinal nerve components, the nerve to the LA was classified into the following categories: 50% (n = 100) originated from S4 and S5 (type I); 19% (n = 38) originated from S5 (type II); 16% (n = 32) originated from S4 (type III); 11% (n = 22) originated from S3 and S4 (type IV); 4% (n = 8) originated from S3, S4, and S5 (type V). Two patterns of nerve termination were observed. In 42% of specimens, the nerve to the LA penetrated the coccygeus muscle and assumed an external position along the inferior surface of the LA muscle. In the remaining 58% of specimens, the nerve crossed the superior surface of the coccygeus muscle and continued along the superior surface of the iliococcygeus muscle. Damage to the nerve to LA has been associated with various pathologies. In order to minimize injuries during surgical procedures, a thorough understanding of the course and variations of the nerve to the LA is extremely important.