Anatomy of radical prostatectomy as defined by magnetic resonance imaging

Robert P. Myers, Donald R. Cahill, Richard M. Devine, Bernard F. King

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Scopus citations


Purpose: We examined and defined anatomical structures relevant to radical prostatectomy using magnetic resonance imaging. Materials and Methods: Before radical prostatectomy, 15 men underwent high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging studies of their pelvic floors (fast spin echo, T2 weighting of 3- to 4-mm. contiguous or overlapping slices) in axial, coronal, and sagittal planes. Results: Pubovesical ligaments, rather than the commonly reported puboprostatic ligaments, were observed attaching the bladder- prostate unit to the pubis. We suggest that the part of the urethra that extends from the apex of the prostate to the bulb of the penis, which is surrounded by the striated sphincter, should be termed the sphincteric urethra rather than the membranous urethra. Further, we found no evidence that supports the traditional concept of a urogenital diaphragm. The lower part of the striated urethral sphincter was flanked on its sides by the anterior recesses of the ischioanal fossae. The portion of the levator ani, which we have termed the puboanalis sling, flanked the apex of the prostate. The most anteromedial portion of this sling inserts into the perineal body and should be termed the puboperinealis. The terminal part of the gastrointestinal tract (the part continued beyond the levator ani) should be termed the anal canal, not the rectum, as used frequently in the urologic literature. Therefore, the initial plane of dissection in radical perineal prostatectomy passes along the anterior portion of the anal canal, not the rectum. Conclusion: We used magnetic resonance imaging to study male pelvic floor and perineal anatomy without the artifact of dissection. This study allowed us to devise a more precise nomenclature with respect to radical prostatectomy and, in so doing, to provide a better understanding of both the retropubic and the perineal operations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2148-2158
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Urology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1998


  • Anatomy
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Pelvis
  • Perineum
  • Prostatectomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urology


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