Sacrotuberous ligament healing following surgical division during transgluteal pudendal nerve decompression: A 3-Tesla MR neurography study

Jan Fritz, Benjamin Fritz, A. Lee Dellon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Pelvic pain due to chronic pudendal nerve (PN) compression, when treated surgically, is approached with a transgluteal division of the sacrotuberous ligament (STL). Controversy exists as to whether the STL heals spontaneously or requires grafting. Therefore, the aim of this study was to determine how surgically divided and unrepaired STL heal. A retrospective evaluation of 10 patients who had high spatial resolution 3-Tesla magnetic resonance imaging (3T MRI) exams of the pelvis was done using an IRB-approved protocol. Each patient was referred for residual pelvic pain after a transgluteal STL division for chronic pudendal nerve pain. Of the 10 patients, 8 had the STL divided and not repaired, while 2 had the STL divided and reconstructed with an allograft tendon. Of the 8 that were left unrepaired, 6 had bilateral surgery. Outcome variables included STL integrity and thickness. Normative data for the STL were obtained through a control group of 20 subjects. STL integrity and thickness were measured directly on 3 T MR Neurography images, by two independent Radiologists. The integrity and thickness of the post-surgical STL was evaluated 39 months (range, 9-55) after surgery. Comparison was made with the native contra-lateral STL in those who had unilateral STL division, and with normal, non-divided STL of subjects of the control group. The normal STL measured 3 mm (minimum and maximum of absolute STL thickness, 2-3 mm). All post-operative STL were found to be continuous regardless of the surgical technique used. Measured at level of Alcock's canal in the same plane as the obturator internus tendon posterior to the ischium, the mean anteroposterior STL diameter was 5 mm (range, 4-5 mm) in the group of prior STL division without repair and 8 mm (range, 8-9 mm) in the group with the STL reconstructed with grafts (p<0.05). The group of healed STLs were significantly thicker than the normal STL (p<0.05). We conclude that a surgically divided STL will heal spontaneously and will be significantly thicker after healing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0165239
JournalPloS one
Volume11
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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