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Anatomy of Pelvic Support

  • Jun 19, 2010
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Tags: | anatomy | bony pelvis | cystocele | enterocele |

Female pelvic anatomy can be a conceptual challenge. To understand the function of the pelvis, one must understand the basic anatomy and then the dynamic nature of the structures that allow for urinary and bowel continence in a variety of circumstances.

An understanding of normal anatomy and function provides the clinician with a framework for understanding the pathophysiology of pelvic organ prolapse and female urinary incontinence. The evaluation of female urinary incontinence often involves the recognition and treatment of concurrent pelvic abnormalities, such as cystocele, uterine prolapse, enterocele, rectocele, or perineal laxity. The factors responsible for pelvic floor relaxation rarely affect isolated anatomic areas. This chapter provides a detailed description of normal female pelvic anatomy, and an emphasis is placed on key surgical landmarks for reestablishing normal anatomy.

Bony Pelvis
The bony pelvis is comprised of the sacrum, coccyx, and two innominate bones, formed by the fusion of the iliac, ischial, and pubic bones (Fig. 1) (1). An opening is found between the pubic and ischial bones, medial to the acetabulum, known as the obturator foramen. The ischiopubic ramus is the medial fusion of the pubic and ischial bones. 

Anatomy of Pelvic Support

What Is Diabetes

Transobturator devices used during antiincontinence procedures are passed around the midpoint of this structure through the obturator foramen. The pectineal line on the anteromedial aspect of the pubic bone is an important surgical landmark for retropubic urethral suspensions (Fig.  2).  The supporting sutures are often placed in Cooper’s (pectineal) ligament, which overlies the pectineal line (1).

Fig. 1. The bones of the pelvis. (From ref. 13.) The bones of the pelvis

The pelvic floor is diamond shaped, with the pubic symphysis anteriorly, the sacrum posteriorly, and the ischial spines laterally as its apices. These structures provide the main anchoring points for the supporting structures of the pelvic floor (2).

The sacrospinous ligaments (SSLs) span the posterior aspect of the pelvic floor from the ischial spines to the anterolateral aspect of the sacrum and coccyx, creating the greater and lesser sciatic foramina (Fig. 1).

Fig. 2. Surgical landmarks for retropubic urethral suspensions. (From ref. 14.)Surgical landmarks for retropubic urethral suspensions The SSLs are instrumental in many prolapse repair techniques. Medially, the SSL fuses with the sacrotuberous ligament, and together they serve to stabilize the sacroiliac joint (3).

Melissa Fischer, MD, Priya Padmanabhan, MD, and Nirit Rosenblum, MD


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