Sacrectomy is a challenging surgical procedure used in the treatment of primary tumours of the sacrum (eg chordoma) or rectal tumours (usually locally recurrent) involving the sacrum. The complexity and disability associated with the procedure depends in large part on the level of resection. High sacral resections can lead to loss of bladder and bowel function (1).

The procedure can be performed through a combined abdomino-lateral approach, sequential abdominal then posterior approaches or entirely by a posterior approach depending on the local extent of the tumour and involvement of critical anatomical structures. Division of the bone just below the lower border of S3 preserves sphincteric function. Bilateral sacrifice of S2-S4 roots lead to urinary and faecal incontinence and male impotence. Anorectal incontinence can be preserved if one S2 root is maintained.

The dural sac ends at the S2/3 junction, and if entered, requires meticulous closure. For higher sacral resections the posterior sacral plate is removed with rongeurs, which may allow identification of sacral nerve roots. Attempts should be made to spare the pudendal nerve if it is encountered running posterior to the ischial spine.

Sacrectomy requires specialist expertise and a team which includes colorectal, orthopaedic and plastic surgical expertise as appropriate. After resection of the sacrum, reconstruction of the soft tissue defect may be achieved using a VRAM rectus abdominis pedicled flap or IGAP gluteal muscle transfers.

For more information, the chapter on sacrectomy in Malawer’s book is very helpful (
1. Spine J. 2015 Feb 1;15(2):222-9. Maintenance of bowel, bladder, and motor functions after sacrectomy. Moran D, Zadnik PL, Taylor T, Groves ML, Yurter A, Wolinsky JP, Witham TF, Bydon A, Gokaslan ZL, Sciubba DM.

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