Femoral nerve

Femoral nerve
The lumbar plexus and its branches. (Femoral labeled at bottom left.)
Femoral sheath laid open to show its three compartments. (Femoral nerve visible in yellow.)
Innervatesanterior compartment of thigh
Latinnervus femoralis
Anatomical terms of neuroanatomy

The femoral nerve is a nerve in the thigh that supplies skin on the upper thigh and inner leg, and the muscles that extend the knee. It is the largest branch of the lumbar plexus.


The femoral nerve is the major nerve supplying the anterior compartment of the thigh. It is the largest branch of the lumbar plexus, and arises from the dorsal divisions of the ventral rami of the second, third, and fourth lumbar nerves (L2, L3, and L4).

The nerve enters Scarpa's triangle by passing beneath the inguinal ligament, just lateral to the femoral artery. In the thigh, the nerve lies in a groove between iliacus muscle and psoas major muscle, outside the femoral sheath, and lateral to the femoral artery. After a short course of about 4 cm in the thigh, the nerve is divided into anterior and posterior divisions, separated by lateral femoral circumflex artery. The branches are shown below:

Muscular branches

Cutaneous branches

Articular branches

  • Hip joint is supplied by nerve to the rectus femoris.
  • Knee joint is supplied by the nerves to the three vastus muscles. The nerve to vastus medialis is particularly thick because it contains the proprioceptive fibres from the knee joint. This is in accordance to the Hilton's law.

Vascular branches

  • Branches to the femoral artery and its branches.

Clinical significance

Signals from the femoral nerve and its branches can be blocked to interrupt the transmission of pain signals from the innervation area. Some of the nerve blocks that work by affecting the femoral nerve are the femoral nerve block, the fascia iliac block and the 3-in-1 nerve block. Femoral nerve blocks are very effective.

During pelvic surgery and abdominal surgery, the femoral nerve must be identified early on to protect it from iatrogenic nerve injury.

The femoral nerve stretch test can be performed to identify the compression of spinal nerve roots. The test is positive if thigh pain increases.

Additional images

See also

This page was last updated at 2024-01-07 12:19 UTC. Update now. View original page.

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