Preservation of pudendal afferents in sacral rhizotomies

Jessie C. Huang, Vedran Deletis, David B. Vodusek, Rick Abbott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

108 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: To assess the effectiveness of pudendal afferent mapping as a tool to minimize the risk of postoperative bowel, bladder, and sexual dysfunction in patients undergoing selective posterior rhizotomies in whom the S2 roots are candidates for rhizotomy. METHODS: One-hundred fourteen children with the diagnosis of cerebral palsy and debilitating spasticity were selected to undergo selective posterior rhizotomies at New York University Medical Center during 1991 through 1995. There were 72 male and 42 female patients with a mean age of 3.8 years. At the time of surgery, none of the patients had clinically relevant bladder dysfunction. Dorsal root action potentials were recorded intraoperatively to map the distribution of pudendal afferent fibers in S1-S3 roots bilaterally before performing the rhizotomies. RESULTS: Pudendal afferent mapping was successful in 105 of 114 patients. In the majority of these patients (56%), the distribution was asymmetrical. S1 roots contributed 4%, S2 roots 60.5%, and S3 roots 35.5% of the overall pudendal afferent activity. The pudendal afferent distribution was often confined to a single level in 18% of the patients or even to a single root in 7.6%. Fifty-six percent of the pathologically responding S2 roots during rhizotomy testing were preserved because of the significant afferent activity, as demonstrated during pudendal mapping. None of the 105 patients so mapped developed long-term bowel or bladder complications. CONCLUSION: Pudendal afferent mapping identifies S2 roots that carry a significant number of fibers involved with genital sensation. The preservation of such roots during surgical procedures may be important for sexual function and may also contribute to decreasing postoperative bladder and bowel disturbances.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)411-415
Number of pages5
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Bladder dysfunctions
  • Bowel dysfunctions
  • Intraoperative monitoring
  • Pudendal nerve
  • Rhizotomy
  • Sexual dysfunction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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