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Abstract

The present study uses selective surgical ablations combined with electron microscopic analyses to determine the number of axons in yarious catagories in rat hypogastric, pelvic, and pudendal nerves, these being the nerves to the pelvic viscera in this animal. Unmyelinated fibers predominate in all of these nerves. One of the most significant findings is that the pelvic nerve contains almost as many postganglionic sympathetic fibers as the hypogastric nerve. Previous investigators thought that the pelvic nerve supplied the parasympathetic inflow and the hypogastric nerve the sympathetic inflow to the pelvic viscera. The finding that there is a sizable sympathetic component in the pelvic nerve negates this idea, at least for the rat, and presumably calls for a reevaluation of the syndromes that arise from pelvic as opposed to hypogastric nerve section. Other findings of interest are (1) that there are unmyelinated efferent axons in the pudendal nerve, indicating that the pudendal is not a typical somatic nerve, (2) that the hypogastric nerve has a very small sensory component, and (3) that there are fibers surviving in the distal stumps of all these nerves, particularly the pelvic and hypogastric nerves.