Conference Coverage

Beware the dangers of nerve injury in vaginal surgery



Use caution when positioning patients during vaginal surgery to prevent potentially severe nerve injuries, a pelvic surgeon urged colleagues.

“It’s a very high medical and legal risk. You have to think about the various nerves that can be influenced,” urogynecologist Mickey M. Karram, MD, said at the Pelvic Anatomy and Gynecologic Surgery Symposium.

Dr. Karram, director of urogynecology and reconstructive surgery at the Christ Hospital in Cincinnati and clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Cincinnati, offered these pearls:

  • Understand the anatomy of nerves at risk. These include the ilioinguinal nerve, obturator neurovascular bundle, and pudendal nerve.
  • Position the patient correctly. The buttocks should be at edge of table, Dr. Karram said, and there should be slight extension and lateral rotation of the thigh. Beware of compression of the lateral knee.
  • Avoid compression from stirrups. If you still use candy-cane stirrups, he said, you can get compression along the lateral aspect of the knee. “You can [get] common perineal nerve injuries. You can also get femoral nerve injuries that are stretch injuries and over-extension injuries as well. Just be careful about this.” Dr. Karram said he prefers fin-type stirrups such as the Allen Yellofin brand. Also, he said, avoid compression injuries that result when there are too many people between the patient’s legs and someone leans on the thighs, he said.
  • Free the retractor in abdominal procedures. “If you’re operating abdominally and use retractors, free the retractor at times,” he said. Otherwise, “you can get injuries to the genitofemoral nerve and the femoral nerve itself.”
  • Beware buttock pain after sacrospinous fixation. “About 15%-20% of the time, you’ll get extreme buttock pain,” Dr. Karram said. “Assuming the buttock pain doesn’t radiate anywhere and doesn’t go down the leg, it’s definitely not a problem. If it goes down the leg, then you have to think about things like deligating pretty quickly.”

Dr. Karram disclosed consulting (Coloplast and Cynosure/Hologic) and speaker (Allergan, Astellas, Coloplast, and Cynosure/Hologic) relationships. He has royalties from Fidelis Medical and LumeNXT.

This meeting was jointly provided by Global Academy for Medical Education and the University of Cincinnati. Global Academy and this news organization are owned by the same company.

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