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J Neurosurg Spine. 2011 Nov;15(5):526-31. doi: 10.3171/2011.6.SPINE11163. Epub 2011 Jul 15.

Feasibility of a femoral nerve motor branch for transfer to the pudendal nerve for restoring continence: a cadaveric study.

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  • 1Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Temple University School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19140-5104, USA.



Nerve transfers are an effective means of restoring control to paralyzed somatic muscle groups and, recently, even denervated detrusor muscle. The authors performed a cadaveric pilot project to examine the feasibility of restoring control to the urethral and anal sphincters using a femoral motor nerve branch to reinnervate the pudendal nerve through a perineal approach.


Eleven cadavers were dissected bilaterally to expose the pudendal and femoral nerve branches. Pertinent landmarks and distances that could be used to locate these nerves were assessed and measured, as were nerve cross-sectional areas.


A long motor branch of the femoral nerve was followed into the distal vastus medialis muscle for a distance of 17.4 ± 0.8 cm, split off from the main femoral nerve trunk, and transferred medially and superiorly to the pudendal nerve in the Alcock canal, a distance of 13.7 ± 0.71 cm. This was performed via a perineal approach. The cross-sectional area of the pudendal nerve was 5.64 ± 0.49 mm(2), and the femoral nerve motor branch at the suggested transection site was 4.40 ± 0.41 mm(2).


The use of a femoral nerve motor branch to the vastus medialis muscle for heterotopic nerve transfer to the pudendal nerve is surgically feasible, based on anatomical location and cross-sectional areas.

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