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Anatomy Atlases: Illustrated Encyclopedia of Human Anatomic Variation: Opus III: Nervous System: Plexuses: Genitofemoral Nerve

Illustrated Encyclopedia of Human Anatomic Variation: Opus III: Nervous System: Plexuses

Genitofemoral Nerve

Ronald A. Bergman, PhD
Adel K. Afifi, MD, MS
Ryosuke Miyauchi, MD

Peer Review Status: Internally Peer Reviewed

This nerve is considered by some authors as the most variable nerve of the lumbar plexus. The genital and the femoral (crural) branches of the nerve may arise as separate offshoots of the lumbar plexus. Either of them may be derived from the first or second lumbar nerves and occasionally from the third. The genital branch sometimes receives fibers from the twelfth thoracic nerve.

The genitofemoral or either of its branches (genital or femoral) may be absent. In such cases, the ilioinguinal nerve replaces the genital branch, while the lateral cutaneous or the anterior femoral nerve replaces the femoral branch. The branches of the genitofemoral may replace or join the ilioinguinal nerve.

The genital branch may bypass the deep inguinal ring running superficial to it in the aponeurosis of the external abdominal oblique muscle. The femoral branch may replace or join the lateral or middle cutaneous nerve. On occasion, the femoral branch has an extensive distribution to the skin of the thigh (upper two-thirds). The genital branch may supply the lower fibers of the internal abdominal oblique and transversus muscles. Occasionally, the nerve divides within the substance of the psoas muscle and the two terminal branches emerge separately from the anterior surface of the muscle.

In a study of 200 bodies, the genitofemoral nerve was a single trunk in 80%, and two separate branches, genital and femoral, in 20%. The single trunk may arise from L1, L2 or L2, L3 and the two trunks from L1, L2 or L1, L2 and L3. The third lumbar was represented in 0.75% of cases, the second lumbar in every case. The level of division into terminal branches was highly variable.

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Anson, B.J., Ed. (1966) Morris' Human Anatomy, 12th ed., The Blakiston Division, McGraw-Hill Book Company, New York.

Bergman, R.A., Thompson, S.A., Afifi, A.K. and F.A. Saadeh. (1988) Compendium of Human Anatomic Variation., Urban & Schwarzenberg, Munich and Baltimore.

Henle, J. (1868) Handbuch der Systematischen Anatomie des Menschen., von Friedrich Vieweg und Sohn., Braunschweig.

Kosinski, C. (1926) La valeur anthropologique des variations dans l'innervation cutanée des membres inférieurs. Assoc. Anatomistes Comptes Rendus. 21:291-295.

Latarjet, A. (1948) Testut's Traité d'Anatomie Humain, 9th ed., G. Doin & Cie. Paris.

Schaefer, E.A., Symington, J. and T.H. Bryce., Eds. (1915) Quain's Anatomy, Longmans, Green, and Co., London.

Urbanowicz, Z. (1975) External structure of the genitofemoral nerve in postnatal life in man. Folia Morphol. (Warsaw) 34:425-434.

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