Objectives The anatomy and function of the pelvic autonomic nerves are not yet fully understood despite the development of nerve-sparing radical surgery for cervical cancer. Thus, we developed a female animal model for anatomical and functional assessment of the pelvic autonomic nerves in women.
Methods We used eight female swine models weighing about 30 kg each and assessed the anatomy of their pelvic autonomic nerves. We also evaluated the nerves’ function by measuring the pressure of the bladder, vagina, and rectum after electrically stimulating the parasympathetic nerves with or without resection of the sympathetic nerves.
Results Three swine models were dissected for anatomical assessment and showed similar patterns. Although there were some anatomic variations, most showed identical pathways of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nerves that eventually led to the formation of superior and inferior hypogastric nerves respectively, as well as the individual branches of the pelvic plexus. The remaining eight models were used for functional assessment. Before resection of the sympathetic nerves, stimulation of parasympathetic nerves showed increased interval to contraction and duration of contraction but decreased maximal contractile pressure and frequency in the pelvic organs, while results revealed the contrary after resection of the sympathetic nerves.
Conclusions We were able to identify the anatomy and function of pelvic autonomic nerves in swine models and found them to be similar to those of women. Further studies should be done to compare the two in order to master the knowledge of female pelvic autonomic nerves.
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