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Published on Jul 11, 2008
INTRODUCTION Popliteal nerve block is a block of the sciatic nerve in the popliteal fossa. The block provides anesthesia for surgery on the calf, Achilles tendon, ankle, and foot. It additionally provides adequate anesthesia for use of a calf tourniquet.1 The popliteal block results in anesthesia of the distal two thirds of the lower extremity, except for the medial aspect of the leg below the knee, which is supplied by the saphenous nerve.2 It is not uncommon to combine a saphenous nerve block with a popliteal nerve block to achieve complete surgical anesthesia of the lower extremity below the knee.
INDICATIONS #Anesthesia for procedures on the distal tibia and fibula, ankle and foot #Post-operative pain relief for procedures on the distal tibia and fibula, ankle, and foot.
ANATOMY The sciatic nerve is formed by the union of the first three sacral spinal nerves and the 4th and 5th lumbar nerves (see Figure 2). It is the largest of the four major nerves supplying the leg. The sciatic nerve leaves the pelvis through the greater sciatic foramen. It runs toward the posterior aspect of the thigh between the greater trochanter of the femur and the ischial tuberosity. At 60 mm ± 30 mm above the popliteal crease it divides into its terminal branches the tibial nerve (supplying the heel and sole of the foot) and the common peroneal (also known as the common fibular) nerve (innervating the lateral aspect of the leg and dorsum of the foot). The only aspect of the lower leg not innervated by the sciatic nerve is the medial aspect of the leg below the knee, which is supplied by the saphenous nerve.
On the posterior aspect of the knee, the landmarks for performance of the popliteal block are the tendons of the semimembranosus and semitendinosus muscles medially, the biceps femoris laterally, and the popliteal crease inferiorly.