Pelvic pain of pudendal nerve origin: Surgical outcomes and learning curve lessons

A. Lee Dellon, Deborah Coady, Dena Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose When pudendal nerve dysfunction fails to improve after medical and pelvic floor therapy, a surgical approach may be indicated. Traditional, posterior, transgluteal nerve decompression fails in an unacceptably high percentage of patients. Insights into pudendal neuroanatomy and pathophysiology offer improved microsurgical outcomes. Methods To evaluate results of a peripheral nerve approach to the pudendal nerve, 55 patients were prospectively evaluated. This cohort included 25 men and 30 women. Surgical approach was posterior, transgluteal if symptoms included rectal pain; or anterior, inferior pubic ramus approach if symptoms excluded rectal pain. Surgical approach was resection, if trauma created a neuroma, and decompression, if there were no neuroma. Effect of comorbidities was analyzed. Results At 14.3 months postoperatively, untreated anxiety/depression correlated with outcome failure, regardless of surgical approach, p < 0.002. There was no difference in results, men versus women, anterior versus posterior approach, or neuroma resection versus neurolysis. Success correlated with the learning curve of the surgeon. Self-rated success was significantly better (p < 0.0001) for patients operated on during the second year of the study than the first year of the study, and improved again in the final year of the study (p < 0.04), with 86% of the patients in final year achieving an excellent result and 14% achieving a good result. Conclusion There is hope for surgical relief from pudendal nerve problems by distinguishing neuroma from compression in the diagnosis, and then choosing a site-specific surgical approach related to which pudendal nerve branches are involved.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)283-290
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of reconstructive microsurgery
Volume31
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2015

Keywords

  • neurolysis
  • neuroma
  • pudendal nerve

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery

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