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Published online: 2024-04-26

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Morphological variability of lateral femoral cutaneous nerve and its potential clinical significance

Kinga Włudyka1, Nicol Zielinska1, Richard Shane Tubbs234567, Krystian Maślanka1, Andrzej Borowski8, Marek Drobniewski8, Łukasz Olewnik1
Pubmed: 38757494


Background: The lateral femoral cutaneous nerve is derived from the dorsal branches of the L2 and L3 spinal nerves. It travels across the pelvis and heads towards the anterior superior iliac spine.  It passes under the lateral part of the inguinal ligament and then divides into two branches, which are responsible for sensory innervation of the anterolateral and lateral skin of the thigh. However, the course of this nerve can vary morphologically. Numerous differences have been observed in its exit from the pelvis and in the number of its main trunks and branches. Additionally, its angle with the inguinal ligament and its placement in relation to other structures (such as the femoral artery, femoral nerve, and the sartorius and iliacus muscles) also vary. All of these variants have potential clinical implications. Therefore, the aim of this review is to present the morphological variability of the lateral cutaneous nerve and to explore how these anatomical differences can introduce clinical concerns. Materials and methods: Presented review of the literature was written based on over 30 studies. Comprehensive literature search was done using PubMed in order to study the morphological variability of lateral femoral cutaneous nerve (LFCN). To be included in this review studies needed to be meet certain criteria: been published before December 2023, present information valuable to this paper (variability of lateral femoral cutaneous nerve/clinical significance). The search included how LFCN vary either among fetuses and adults in the aim of providing more complex information about the variability of this nerve. During the search key words as following were used. No particular references were excluded from the analysis. All relevant studies were included, and citation tracking was used to identify publications. Results: This review presents the description of variability of LFCN and its potential clinical impact. In the review differences in adult and fetuses were considered, morphological variability were divided into 4 groups: the origin of the nerve, the way it leaves the pelvis, the branching pattern, the angle between LFCN and surrounding structures and then, clinical significance were considered basing on available literature.

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