To review the neural architecture around the prostate gland, as it is relevant for nerve-sparing robotic prostatectomy, including in particular the anatomy of the proximal neurovascular tissue, the neurovascular bundle (NVB), and accessory neural pathways (ANPs).
MATERIAL AND METHODS
The aims of this study were achieved in collaboration between the Cornell Institute of Robotic Surgery, New York, NY, USA and the Institute of Urology at the University of Innsbruck, Austria. The broad steps were: (i) anatomical studies of 10 fresh and two fixed male cadavers; and (ii) collection of videotape and still image data from 200 men undergoing radical prostatectomy by the athermal robotic technique at the Cornell Institute.
From a surgical standpoint there was a tri-zonal neural architecture including the proximal neurovascular plate (PNP), the predominant NVB (PNB) and ANPs. The PNP was a mean (range) of 5 (3–10) mm lateral to the seminal vesicles, was 3 (2–7) mm thick, 7 (5–25) mm wide and 9 (4–30) mm long. It was within 6 (4–15) mm of the bladder neck, 5 (2–7) mm of the endopelvic fascia and overlapped 5 (0–7) mm of the proximal prostate. The PNB varied in shape and size from the proximal to distal end, was thickest at the base and most variable near the apex. In eight of 12 cases, there was a medial extension behind the prostate, which converged medially at the apex in four cases. ANPs were noted within the layers of levator fascia and/or lateral pelvic fascia on the anterolateral aspect in five cases and in three on the posterior aspect of the prostate. In nine cadavers, the proximal third of the prostate was covered by the PNP where these ANPs were most prominent. The ANPs formed a plexus on the posterolateral aspect of the apex in four cases.
We have created an anatomical map of neurovascular tissue relevant to robotic prostatectomy. A tri-zonal neural architecture is described which has helped in standardizing the steps of robotic prostatectomy.