Lateral Cutaneous Nerve Distribution

November 12, 2012

Lateral Cutaneous Nerve Distribution

Lateral cutaneous nerve of the thigh arises from the dorsal branches of the L2 and L3 vertebrae in the spinal cord. Iatrogenic Meralgia Paresthetica causes numbness, tingling sensation, pain or burning sensation in the distribution of the lateral cutaneous nerve.

Lateral Cutaneous Nerve

Lateral cutaneous nerve crosses iliacus muscle and enters the thigh above the inguinal ligament. In about 30 percent of the cases, the lateral cutaneous nerve divides before crossing the inguinal ligament. It then crosses the Sartorius laterally, about 2.2 to 11 cm away from the ASIS. The nerve splits into anterior and posterior sections which penetrate the fascia lata several centimeters below the ASIS. The anterior part of the nerve is responsible for providing sensation to the anterior of front part of the thigh. The posterior branch of the lateral cutaneous nerve innervates the lateral part of the thigh.

Meralgia Paresthetica

Iatrogenic meralgia paresthetica is the numbness, tingling, pain or burning sensation in the distribution of the lateral cutaneous nerve. Men are two times more likely to suffer from this condition than women. Both sides of the nerve are involved equally. While 36 percent of the patients experience symptoms on the right side, about 38 percent of them experience symptoms on the left side. Almost 22 percent of patients present bilateral symptoms.


Problems associated with the distribution of the lateral cutaneous nerve may occur as a result of Acetabular fracture surgery, pelvic osteotomies, bariatric surgery and laparoscopic hernia repair. Excessive weight gain, pregnancy, cirrhosis, abdominal compression and hip surgery may also increase the risk of iatrogenic meralgia paresthetica.


Many patients experience decreased sensation of touch, pain and temperature in certain parts of the thigh. Others may experience neuropathic pain and tingling sensations in their thigh. These may cause severe discomfort to the patients and affect their lifestyle.


Diagnosis of conditi

ons related to lateral cutaneous nerve distribution depends on a thorough physical examination and evaluation of symptoms. Your doctor may ask you questions about your medical history, and order x-rays and scans to conform the diagnosis of iatrogenic meralgia paresthetica.


Treatment depends on the severity of symptoms and the distribution of the lateral cutaneous nerve. Your doctor may prescribe non-steroid anti-inflammatory medications to treat the pain associated with iatrogenic meralgia paresthetica. Intravenous administration of steroids can also help manage the condition. Loose clothing may also benefit patients with iatrogenic meralgia paresthetica.

Most patients recover within 3 months. However, if your symptoms persist after that period, you may require surgical intervention, which may include neurolysis or transection by cutting a portion of the lateral cutaneous nerve.


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