Femoral Nerve Catheter
Your Femoral Nerve Catheter:
Now that you have had your knee replaced, you have a femoral nerve catheter (FNC), or
a nerve block. This is in your groin area. The block sends a drug through a yellow tube
that numbs the upper thigh and top of the knee. At every shift change, your nurses will
check the site and pump settings. The block should take away the amount of pain you feel
and decrease the amount of narcotic pain medicines you need after surgery. Research
shows that the FNC reduces pain after surgery.
How it works:
The medicine comes in a pump that is programmed for the amount of medicine the
doctors want you to have. In most cases, you will receive a small amount of medicine
around-the-clock. There is a button attached to your pump that you can push to give
yourself an extra dose if you need it. Your nurse will explain to you how often you can
push the button. This works best for pain on top of the knee.
Using less narcotic drugs can help you avoid the bad side effects. Some of these are low
blood pressure, itching, drowsiness, nausea, and decreased breathing rate. One main goal
of the block is to be happier with your pain control.
There are some risks to using a nerve block. One of the biggest risks to you is that you
are more likely to fall after your surgery. Even if you have normal feeling in your leg,
your muscles are weakened by the medicine. Falls can increase the time of your recovery
and can cause injuries. This could require another surgery to fix.
There are some important things you can do to reduce your chance of falling. The most
important step you can take is to always call for help before you get out of bed. Having a
nurse or nursing assistant with you makes it safer for you to get out of bed. Another way
to decrease falls is to use a brace called a knee immobilizer. This brace will help prevent
your knee from giving out without warning. This will be used the entire time you have
the block and for several hours after it is removed until your muscle strength returns to
normal. Research studies show that using the brace lowers your risk for falling.
For Your own Safety:
While you are in the hospital after your knee surgery, remember this phrase:
“Call, don’t fall!”
Feibel, R.J., Dervin, G.F., Kim, P.R., & Beaulé, P.E. (2009). Major complications
associated with femoral nerve catheters for knee arthroplasty: A word of caution. The
Journal of Arthroplasty, 24(6), American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons
supplement, 132-137. doi:10.1016/j.arth.2009.04.008
LaReau, J.M., Robbins, C.E., Talma, C.T., Mehio, A.K., Puri, L., & Bono, J.V. (2012).
Complications of femoral nerve blockade in total knee arthroplasty and strategies to
reduce patient risk. Journal of Arthroplasty, 27, 564-568. doi:10.1016/j.arth.2011.06.028
Otten, C., & Dunn, K. (2011). Mulitmodal analgesia for postoperative total knee
arthroplasty. Orthopaedic Nursing, 30, 373-380. doi: 10.1097/NOR.0b013e318237108a
Sharma, S., Iorio, R., Specht, L.M., Davies-Lepie, S., & Healy, W.L. (2010).
Complications of femoral nerve block for total knee arthroplasty. Clinical Orthopaedics
and Related Research, 468(1), 135-140. doi:10.1007/s11999-009-1025-1
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call
if you have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with
your doctor. This is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical
condition. Because each person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on
your health care team when using this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright ©
4/2015 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the
Department of Nursing. HF#7374