Clinical anatomy of the coccyx: A systematic review


  • A component of this review article formed the basis of a poster presentation at ANZACA in Tasmania in December 2010 (Woon JT & Stringer MD, “What is the coccygeal plexus?”)


The coccyx has been relatively neglected in anatomical research which is surprising given the population prevalence of coccydynia and our inadequate understanding of its etiology. This systematic review analyzes available information on the clinical anatomy of the coccyx. A literature search using five electronic databases and standard anatomy reference texts was conducted yielding 61 primary and 7 secondary English-language sources. This was supplemented by a manual search of selected historical foreign language articles. The coccygeal vertebrae, associated joints, ligaments and muscles, coccygeal movements, nerves, and blood supply were analyzed in detail. Although the musculoskeletal aspects of the coccyx are reasonably well described, the precise anatomy of the coccygeal plexus and its distribution, the function of the coccygeal body, and the anatomy of the sacrococcygeal zygapophyseal joints are poorly documented. Further research into the anatomy of the coccyx may clarify the etiopathogenesis of coccydynia which remains uncertain in one-third of affected patients. Clin. Anat. 25:158–167, 2012. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.