The gross anatomy of the renal sympathetic nerves revisited
Catheter-based renal denervation techniques focus on reducing blood pressure in resistant hypertension. This procedure requires exact knowledge of the anatomical interrelation between the renal arteries and the targeted renal nervous plexus. The aim of this work was to build on classical anatomical studies and describe the gross anatomy and anatomical relationships of the renal arteries and nerve supply to the kidneys in a sample of human cadavers. Twelve human cadavers (six males and six females), age range 73 to 94 years, were dissected. The nervous fibers and renal arteries were dissected using a surgical microscope. The renal plexus along the hilar renal artery comprised a fiber-ganglionic ring surrounding the proximal third of the renal artery, a neural network along the middle and distal thirds, and smaller accessory ganglia along the course of the nerve fibers. The fibers of the neural network were mainly located on the superior (95.83%) and inferior (91.66%) surfaces of the renal artery and they were sparsely interconnected by diagonal fibers. Polar arteries were present in 33.33% of cases and the renal nerve pattern for these was similar to that of the hilar arteries. Effective renal denervation needs to target the superior and inferior surfaces of the hilar and polar arteries, where the fibers of the neural network are present.