The sensory territory of the lateral cutaneous nerve of the thigh as determined by anatomic dissections and ultrasound-guided blocks

Reg Anesth Pain Med. Sep-Oct 2012;37(5):561-4. doi: 10.1097/AAP.0b013e318261c8b6.


Background and objectives: A femoral block sometimes fails to provide complete sensory anesthesia of the anterior aspect of middle and distal thigh, and a block of the lateral cutaneous nerve of the thigh (LCN) is often necessary to supplement it. The goal of this study was to demonstrate, both in the anatomy laboratory and in the clinical setting, a possible contribution of the LCN to the innervation of the anterior thigh.

Methods: This was a prospective, observational study, including anatomic dissections and a clinical section in which 22 patients received an ultrasound-guided block of the LCN. The resulting area of anesthesia was determined 15 minutes later using pinprick examination.

Results: In 1 of 3 thigh dissections, we found a dominant LCN innervating most of the anterior aspect of the middle and distal thigh, areas that are usually attributed to the femoral nerve. In the clinical part of the study, 10 patients (45.5%) developed an area of anesthesia that extended to the medial aspect of the thigh and distally to the patella.

Conclusions: Our results, coming from a small sample, seem to indicate that the LCN may contribute to the innervation of the anterior thigh in some cases. A block of the LCN could be considered when a femoral block has failed to produce the expected area of anesthesia.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Dissection / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nerve Block / methods*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Thigh / anatomy & histology
  • Thigh / diagnostic imaging*
  • Thigh / innervation*
  • Ultrasonography, Interventional / methods*