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


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]

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 muscles, 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 branches

Cutaneous branches

  • 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 branches

  • 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 branches

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

Clinical significance

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 blockade. Some of the nerve blocks that works by affecting the femoral nerve are; femoral nerve block, fascia iliaca block and 3-in-1 nerve block.

Additional images

See also


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

  1. 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.
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