Femoral nerve

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.

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 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).[1][2]

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:[1]

Muscular branchesEdit

Cutaneous branchesEdit

  • The anterior division gives off anterior cutaneous branches: The anterior cutaneous branches are: the intermediate femoral cutaneous nerve and the medial femoral cutaneous nerve.[1]
  • The posterior division gives off only one branch, which is the saphenous nerve.[1]

Articular branchesEdit

  • Hip joint is supplied by nerve to the rectus femoris.[1]
  • Knee joint is supplied by the nerves to the three vasti. 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.[1]

Vascular branchesEdit

  • Branches to the femoral artery and its branches.[1]

Clinical significanceEdit

Signals from the femoral nerve and its branches can be blocked to interrupt transmission of pain signal from the innervation area, by performing a regional nerve blockage. 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.[3]

During pelvic surgery and abdominal surgery, the femoral nerve must be identified early on to protect it from iatrogenic nerve injury.[4]

The femoral nerve stretch test can be performed to identify the compression of spinal nerve roots.[5] The test is positive if thigh pain increases.[5]

Additional imagesEdit

See alsoEdit


  This article incorporates text in the public domain from page 955 of the 20th edition of Gray's Anatomy (1918)

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Krishna, Garg (2010). "Front of the thigh (Chapter 3)". BD Chaurasia's Human Anatomy (Regional and Applied Dissection and Clinical) Volume 2 - Lower limb, abdomen, and pelvis (Fifth ed.). India: CBS Publishers and Distributors Pvt Ltd. p. 55. ISBN 978-81-239-1864-8.
  2. ^ Massey, E. Wayne; Massey, Janice M. (2020-01-01), Steegers, Eric A. P.; Cipolla, Marilyn J.; Miller, Eliza C. (eds.), "Chapter 8 - Mononeuropathies in pregnancy", Handbook of Clinical Neurology, Neurology and Pregnancy: Neuro-Obstetric Disorders, Elsevier, vol. 172, pp. 145–151, retrieved 2021-01-17
  3. ^ Candido, Kenneth D.; Benzon, Honorio T. (2005-01-01), Benzon, Honorio T.; Raja, Srinivasa N.; Molloy, Robert E.; Liu, Spencer S. (eds.), "Chapter 76 - Lumbar Plexus, Femoral, Lateral Femoral Cutaneous, Obturator, Saphenous, and Fascia Iliaca Blocks", Essentials of Pain Medicine and Regional Anesthesia (Second Edition), Philadelphia: Churchill Livingstone, pp. 645–658, ISBN 978-0-443-06651-1, retrieved 2021-01-06
  4. ^ Cheema, Zahid F.; Robbie, Ahmad (2003), "Femoral Nerve", Encyclopedia of the Neurological Sciences, Elsevier, pp. 366–367, doi:10.1016/B0-12-226870-9/00868-6, ISBN 978-0-12-226870-0, retrieved 2021-01-06
  5. ^ a b Fritz, Julie (2012-01-01), Andrews, James R.; Harrelson, Gary L.; Wilk, Kevin E. (eds.), "17 - Low Back Rehabilitation", Physical Rehabilitation of the Injured Athlete (Fourth Edition), Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders, pp. 333–356, ISBN 978-1-4377-2411-0, retrieved 2021-01-06

External linksEdit