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J Urol. 2001 Jul;166(1):225-30.

Penile anatomy under the pubic arch: reconstructive implications.

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Departments of Urology and Pediatrics, University of California School of Medicine, San Francisco, California 94143-0738, USA.



We have previously defined the anatomy of the neurovascular bundle in the normal and hypospadiac penis. These studies were based on analysis of the fetal penis distal to the pubic arch without total inclusion of the crural bodies. To our knowledge the neuroanatomy beneath the pubic arch has not been well described. We defined the nerve distribution under the pubic arch and the relationship of the nerves to the crural bodies, corporeal bodies and urethra of the penis.


Eight normal human fetal penile specimens (at 17.5 to 29 weeks of gestation and 1 hypospadiac specimen at 32 weeks were serially sectioned and stained with Masson's trichrome, and the neuronal markers protein gene product 9.5 and S-100. These specimens were unique in that they contained the whole penis from the glans to the crural bodies beneath the pubic arch. Older specimens were decalcified before fixation. Computer reconstruction with commercially available graphics software allowed 3-dimensional analysis of the nerves and crural bodies in relation to the pubic arch and surrounding structures.


The nerves of the penile shaft and glans surrounded the corporeal bodies, extending from the junction of the urethral spongiosum to the classic 11 and 1 o'clock positions with a paucity of nerves at the 12 o'clock position in the dorsal midline. Beneath the pubic arch the nerves to the penis were an extension of the dorsal neurovascular bundle of the prostate. The nerves formed 2 bundles following a path just under the pubic arch in close proximity to the bone, superior to the urethra and medial to the origin of the crural bodies. The nerve bundles joined the corporeal bodies at the proximal origin, where the 2 crural bodies fused together. At this point perforating branches into the corporeal bodies from the cavernous nerves were documented. As the dorsal nerves joined the dorsal aspect of the corporeal bodies, they immediately began to fan out along the surface of the corporeal tissue to the junction of the urethral spongiosum. Three-dimensional reconstruction showed the relationship of the nerves to the pubic arch and urethra in multiple views.


A precise understanding of penile anatomy beneath the pubic arch and at the origin of the crural bodies is important for preserving neuronal structures. This anatomy is especially germane in children undergoing posterior urethral reconstruction secondary to trauma, intersex requiring feminizing genitoplasty and severe hypospadias.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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