Skip to main content

Unfortunately we don't fully support your browser. If you have the option to, please upgrade to a newer version or use Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, or Safari 14 or newer. If you are unable to, and need support, please send us your feedback.

Publish with us
Saphenous Nerve
Nervous System

Saphenous Nerve

Nervus saphenus

Read more

Quick Facts

Origin: Femoral nerve (L3-L4).

Course: Descends through the adductor canal and pierces the deep fascia to become cutaneous around the knee joint. It then descends with the great saphenous vein in the leg.

Branches: Infrapatellar and medial crural cutaneous branches.

Supply: Prepatellar skin and the skin over the medial leg.

Complete Anatomy
The world's most advanced 3D anatomy platform
Try it for Free


The saphenous nerve, the longest nerve in the body, arises from the anterior division of the femoral nerve.


The saphenous nerve descends in the femoral triangle, lateral to the femoral artery, and enters the adductor canal (Romanoff et al., 1989). Here, the nerve crosses the femoral artery so that it lies medial to it. However, unlike the femoral artery and vein, the saphenous nerve does not pass through the adductor hiatus. The nerve emerges through the adductor canal and pierces the fascia lata between the tendons of the sartorius and gracilis muscles to become cutaneous. From here onwards, the saphenous nerve descends along the medial side of the leg, along with the great saphenous vein.


As the saphenous nerve leaves the adductor canal (and prior to piercing the deep fascia lata), it gives off an infrapatellar branch to contribute to the peripatellar plexus of nerves. Distally, the saphenous nerve gives off medial crural cutaneous branches to the skin and provides a communicating branch to connect with the medial branch of the superficial fibular nerve. An additional communicating branch is given off to the subsartorial plexus in the middle thigh.

Supplied Structures

The saphenous nerve provides sensory cutaneous innervation to the prepatellar skin and the skin over the medial leg, ankle, and foot.

List of Clinical Correlates

—Entrapment neuropathy (compression in the adductor canal)


Romanoff, M. E., Cory, P. C., Jr., Kalenak, A., Keyser, G. C. and Marshall, W. K. (1989) 'Saphenous nerve entrapment at the adductor canal', Am J Sports Med, 17(4), pp. 478-81.

Learn more about this topic from other Elsevier products

Saphenous Nerve

ScienceDirect image

Protect saphenous nerve medially and peroneal nerve laterally!

Explore on ScienceDirect(opens in new tab/window)

Complete Anatomy

The world's most advanced 3D anatomy platform

Complete Anatomy