The lymphatic drainage of the uterine cervix in adult fresh cadavers: Anatomy and surgical implications

A. Ercoli, V. Delmas, V. Iannone, A. Fagotti, F. Fanfani, G. Corrado, G. Ferrandina, G. Scambia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To investigate the differences of the amount of paracervical lymphatic structures removed when performing classical type III, modified type II and nerve-sparing radical hysterectomy (RH). Material and methods: Open macroscopic or laparoscopic pelvic dissections in 18 fresh adult female cadavers after lymphatic channels and nodes staining by Lipiodol dye solution injection of the uterine cervix. Results: We distinguished three different lymphatic pathways: 1) the supraureteral paracervical pathway (vascular portion of paracervix-uterine artery and superficial uterine vein), identified in 96% of cases, and removed in all types of RH, 2) the infraureteral paracervical pathway (vascular portion of paracervix-deep uterine vein), identified in 22% of cases, and removed by type III and nerve-sparing RH, and 3) the neural paracervical pathway (nervous portion of paracervix), identified in 7% of cases, and removable only by type III RH. No evidence of stained lymphatic structures running into the vesicouterine and uterosacral ligaments was found. Conclusion: Nerve-sparing RH offers the most effective ratio between oncological safety and surgical-related complications, and would be particularly useful in patients with high risk of paracervical involvement while our results suggest caution in the use of modified type II RH in patients at low-moderate risk of paracervical involvement, unless the use of adjuvant radiotherapy, because of the large amount of potentially lymph-bearing paracervical tissue leaved in situ. Classical type III RH affords the complete resection of all paracervical lymphatic pathways potentially draining the cervix, however this procedure implies a high risk of lesions of the autonomous nerves of pelvic organs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)298-303
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Surgical Oncology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2010


  • Cervical cancer
  • Lymphatic drainage
  • Parametrectomy
  • Radical hysterectomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Surgery


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