Landmarks for Sacral Debridement in Sacral Pressure Sores

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Most cases of sacral osteomyelitis arising in the setting of sacral pressure ulcers require minimal cortical debridement. When faced with advanced bony involvement, the surgeon is often unclear about how much can safely be resected. Unfamiliarity with sacral anatomy can lead to concerns of inadvertent entry into the dural space and compromise of future flap options.

Materials and Methods

A cadaveric study (n = 6), in which a wide posterior dissection of the sacrum, was performed. Relationships of the dural sac to bony landmarks of the posterior pelvis were noted.


The termination of the dural sac was found in our study to occur at the junction of S2/S3 vertebral bodies, which was located at a mean distance of 0.38 ± 0.16 cm distal to the inferior-most extent of the posterior superior iliac spine (PSIS). The mean thickness of the posterior table of sacrum at this level was 1.7 cm at the midline and 0.5 cm at the sacral foramina.


The PSIS is a reliable landmark for localizing the S2/S3 junction and the termination of the dural sac. Sacral debridement medial to the sacral foramina above the level of PSIS must be conservative whenever possible. If aggressive debridement is necessary above this level, the surgeon must be alert to the possibility of dural involvement.

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