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Surgical Anatomy of the Retroperitoneal Spaces, Part IV: Retroperitoneal Nerves

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We present surgicoanatomical topographic relations of nerves and plexuses in the retroperitoneal space: 1) six named parietal nerves, branches of the lumbar plexus: iliohypogastric, ilioinguinal, genitofemoral, lateral femoral cutaneous, obturator, femoral. 2) The sacral plexus is formed by the lumbosacral trunk, ventral rami of S1‐S3, and part of S4; the remainder of S4 joining the coccygeal plexus. From this plexus originate the superior gluteal nerve, which passes backward through the greater sciatic foramen above the piriformis muscle; the inferior gluteal nerve also courses through the greater sciatic foramen, but below the piriformis; 3) sympathetic trunks: right and left lumbar sympathetic trunks, which comprise four interconnected ganglia, and the pelvic chains; 4) greater, lesser, and least thoracic splanchnic nerves (sympathetic), which pass the diaphragm and join celiac ganglia; 5) four lumbar splanchnic nerves (sympathetic), which arise from lumbar sympathetic ganglia; 6) pelvic splanchnic nerves (nervi erigentes), providing parasympathetic innervation to the descending colon and pelvic splanchna; and 7) autonomic (prevertebral) plexuses, formed by the vagus nerves, splanchnic nerves, and ganglia (celiac, superior mesenteric, aorticorenal). They include sympathetic, parasympathetic, and sensory (mainly pain) fibers. The autonomic plexuses comprise named parts: aortic, superior mesenteric, inferior mesenteric, superior hypogastric, and inferior hypogastric (hypogastric nerves).

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Centers for Surgical Anatomy and Technique, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Publication date: March 1, 2010

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  • The Southeastern Surgical Congress owns and publishes The American Surgeon monthly. It is the official journal of the Congress and the Southern California Chapter of the American College of Surgeons, which all members receive each month. The journal brings up to date clinical advances in surgical knowledge in a popular reference format. In addition to publishing papers presented at the annual meetings of the associated organizations, the journal publishes selected unsolicited manuscripts. If you have a manuscript you'd like to see published in The American Surgeon select "Information for Authors" from the Related Information options below. A Copyright Release Form must accompany all manuscripts submitted.
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