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.)
From L2
To L4
Innervates anterior compartment of thigh
Latin nervus femoralis
MeSH A08.800.800.720.450.250
TA A14.2.07.020
FMA 16486

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.


The femoral nerve 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-L4).

It descends through the fibers of the psoas major muscle, emerging from the muscle at the lower part of its lateral border, and passes down between it and the iliacus muscle, behind the iliac fascia; it then runs beneath the inguinal ligament, into the thigh, and splits into an anterior and a posterior division. Under the inguinal ligament, it is separated from the femoral artery by a portion of the psoas major.


The muscles innervated by the femoral nerve extend the knee. The nerve is also responsible for sensation over the front and inner sides of the thigh, shin, and arch of the foot.


Within the abdomen the femoral nerve gives off small branches to the iliacus muscle, and a branch which is distributed on the upper part of the femoral artery; the latter branch may arise in the thigh.


In the thigh, the anterior division of the femoral nerve gives off anterior cutaneous and muscular branches.


The femoral nerve has two groups of posterior branches, muscular (to the four parts of the Quadriceps femoris), and articular, to the knee.

Muscular branches to the quadriceps include:

There are three articular branches:

Additional images

See also


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

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