Master Class

Spare the nerves in deep infiltrative endometriosis surgery


The pelvic autonomic nerves are responsible for the neurogenic control of the rectum and bladder and for sexual arousal. Over the past 30 years, different nerve-sparing techniques have been recommended and adopted to minimize risk of urinary or rectal dysfunction and incontinence, as well as sexual dysfunction, in radical surgery for rectal and early cervical cancer without compromising surgical outcome.

As the treatment of deep infiltrative endometriosis has become more aggressive and radical, it is certainly feasible to consider nerve-sparing techniques at the time of dissection and endometriosis excision to minimize the known risk of urinary, rectal, and sexual dysfunction. Interestingly, because endometriosis generally follows an asymmetric distribution, effect on bladder function is not as problematic as it is in the case of cancer surgery.

Dr. Charles E. Miller, a minimally invasive gynecologic surgeon in Naperville, Ill., and a past president of the AAGL.

Dr. Charles E. Miller

Early innovators include Dr. Marc Possover from Switzerland and Dr. Marcello Ceccaroni from Italy. Both physicians are superior pelvic neuroanatomists. Both describe meticulous and extensive dissection of the nerves of the pelvis at the time of excision of deep infiltrative endometriosis. Unfortunately, their techniques would appear to be beyond the scope of even the most experienced excisional surgeons.

A simplified approach to nerve sparing at the time of excision of deep infiltrative endometriosis has been developed by our guest author, Dr. Nucelio Lemos, in collaboration with physicians at the University of Bologna and the University of Cambridge. By using the hypogastric nerves as the landmark, they have developed a more surgeon friendly and less radical approach to nerve sparing at the time of deep infiltrative endometriosis surgery.

For this edition of the Master Class in Gynecologic Surgery, I have enlisted the assistance of both Dr. Lemos and his fellow in advanced gynecologic surgery, Dr. Meghan McGrattan, from Mount Sinai and Women’s College Hospital in Toronto. Dr. McGrattan drew the anatomic illustrations that accompany Dr. Lemos’ description of the new technique.

Dr. Lemos is associate professor in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Toronto. He specializes in pelvic pain, pelvic floor dysfunction, pelvic organ prolapse, endometriosis, and neuropelveology. Dr. Lemos is a founding member and second vice president of the International Society of Neuropelveology. In addition, Dr. Lemos started the Pelvic Functional Surgery and Neuropelveology Clinic in the department of obstetrics and gynecology of Mount Sinai and Women’s College Hospitals, Toronto.

It is a pleasure and honor to welcome Dr. Lemos and Dr. McGrattan to this addition of the Master Class in Gynecologic Surgery.

Dr. Miller is a professor of obstetrics and gynecology, department of clinical sciences, Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, North Chicago, Ill. He has no conflicts of interest to report.

Recommended Reading

Complicated appendicitis during pregnancy: Immediate surgery may be best
MDedge Surgery
Müllerian anomalies – old problem, new approach and classification
MDedge Surgery
Women are not being warned that anesthetic may reduce birth pill efficacy
MDedge Surgery
Surgeons may underestimate recovery from incontinence operation
MDedge Surgery
Care gaps common after anal sphincter injuries from childbirth
MDedge Surgery