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Acta Neurochir Suppl. 2011;108:233-40. doi: 10.1007/978-3-211-99370-5_36.

Exposure of the sciatic nerve in the gluteal region without sectioning the gluteus maximus: an anatomical and microsurgical study.

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Hospital de Clínicas, University of Buenos Aires School of Medicine, La Pampa 1175 Apt 5ºA, Buenos Aires, Argentina.



Complete sectioning of the gluteus maximus muscle is an extensive procedure when approaching the sciatic nerve in the buttock, resulting in significant morbidity and a prolonged postoperative recovery period. By contrast, dissecting through the muscle by splitting its fibers is faster, involves less damage to tissues and diminishes recovery time. The objective of the present work was to perform a cadaveric study to obtain measurements of the maximum, minimum and mean exposure that this minimally invasive approach can offer.


Both gluteal regions from each of ten fresh cadavers were dissected via a transgluteal approach, using a transverse curvilinear incision. After exposure of the sciatic nerve, the maximum length of exposed nerve was measured. As a final step, a 6 cm long sural graft reconstruction was performed, aided by a surgical microscope and microscopic techniques.


The mean sciatic nerve exposure obtained was 115.4 ± 17.9 mm, ranging from a maximum of 152 mm to a minimum of 90 mm. In all 20 cases, it was possible to perform microsurgical reconstruction under the microscope. We further illustrate these findings with three live patients in whom the transgluteal approach was employed to successfully expose and repair the sciatic nerve.


The transgluteal approach is useful in the operative repair of lesions of the proximal sciatic nerve. It is a less invasive technique than classical complete sectioning of the gluteus maximus muscle, and yields better aesthetic results and a faster return to normal daily activities. Complex lesions, like nerve trauma requiring grafts and nerve tumours, can be treated with minimal risk. Nevertheless, it is less comfortable for the surgeon, and the entire extent of the exposed nerve might not be visualized simultaneously during surgery.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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