The site for needle insertion in femoral nerve block varies significantly among various descriptions of the technique. To determine the site with the highest likelihood of needle-femoral nerve contact, femoral nerve block was simulated in a human cadaver model (17 femoral triangles from 9 adult cadavers). Four 20-gauge 50-mm-long styletted catheters were inserted at four frequently suggested insertion sites for femoral nerve block. At the levels of inguinal ligament and the inguinal crease, the catheters were inserted adjacent to the lateral border of the femoral artery and 2 cm lateral to the femoral artery. During anatomical dissection, we studied the number of catheter-nerve contacts for each of the four insertion sites, and relationships between the femoral nerve and other anatomical structures of relevance to femoral nerve block. Insertion of the needle at the level of the inguinal crease, next to the lateral border of the femoral artery resulted in the highest frequency of needle-femoral nerve contacts (71%). Of note, the femoral nerve was significantly wider (14.0 vs 9.8 mm) and closer to the fascia lata (6.8 vs 26.4 mm) at the inguinal crease than at the inguinal ligament level. We conclude that needle insertion at the inguinal crease level immediately adjacent to the femoral artery produced the highest rate of needle-femoral nerve contacts. The main factors influencing this result include the greater width of the femoral nerve and the more predictable femoral artery-femoral nerve relationship at the inguinal crease level, compared with the inguinal ligament level.
Implications: Insertion of a needle at the inguinal crease level and immediately adjacent to the lateral border of the femoral artery results in a high rate of needle-femoral nerve contact.