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Sacral plexus: want to learn more about it?

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Sacral plexus

Learning objectives 

After going through this study unit, you will be able to: 

  1. Explain how the sacral plexus is formed. 
  2. Identify the branches of the sacral plexus.
  3. Describe the supply areas of each of the branches.

Watch videos

Sacral plexus is a nerve network, consisting of the anterior rami of the lumbosacral trunk (L4, L5) and sacral spinal nerves S1-S4. The rami exit the vertebral column either through the intervertebral foramina or the anterior sacral foramina. The plexus is located posterior to the internal iliac artery and vein and anterior to the piriformis muscle.

The numerous branches of the plexus can be divided into posterior branches, arising from the posterior divisions of the anterior rami, anterior branches, from the anterior division, and one terminal branch. Its main function is the innervation of the muscles of the gluteal region, the legs and the perineum. Additionally, the plexus also provides sensory innervation to those areas. Due to its connection via the lumbosacral trunk, the sacral plexus is often described together with the lumbar plexus under a combined name lumbosacral plexus.

This video tutorial will provide you with an overview of the nerves contributing to the sacral plexus, which structures they supply and lastly some clinical information.

Take a quiz

Now that you have watched the video about the sacral plexus, you can test your knowledge by taking our quiz

If you want to challenge yourself even further, why not take a quiz on the nerves, vessels and lymphatics of the whole pelvis, which you can customize yourself down to a single term!

Browse atlas

Explore each of the individual nerves you learned today in the gallery below:

Once you have browsed through the nerves, you can take a look at some of the main muscles innervated by the sacral plexus:


Key points about the sacral plexus
Origin  L4, L5, S1, S2, S3, S4
Branches Anterior branches: Nerve to quadratus femoris, nerve to obturator internus, pudendal nerve, nerves to levator ani and coccygeus
Posterior branches
: Nerve to piriformis, superior gluteal nerve, inferior gluteal nerve, posterior femoral cutaneous nerve, perforating cutaneous nerve, pelvic splanchnic nerves
Terminal branch
: Sciatic nerve (divides into tibial and common fibular nerves)
Function  Motor and sensory innervation to the posterior thigh, leg, foot and part of the pelvis
Mnemonic for main branches  Superior gluteal nerve, inferior gluteal nerve, posterior cutaneous nerve of thigh, pudendal nerve, sciatic nerve (SIPPS)

Well done!

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Continue your learning 

Super! Now that you‘re an expert of the sacral plexus, you can continue your learning by exploring the lumbar plexus or taking a closer look at the muscles of the hip and leg!

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