Topography of the distal tibial nerve and its branches
The tibial nerve trunk and its branches were dissected in 20 embalmed cadaver legs and the relative topographic anatomy was defined at 3-cm intervals up to 15 cm proximal to the medial malleolar-calcaneal (MMC) axis. Each nerve branch was found in various locations. The calcaneal nerve was found to descend from medial to posteromedial. It was never found anterolaterally and only rarely laterally. The lateral plantar nerve was found to rotate externally from lateral and posterolateral to lateral and posteromedial as it descends. This nerve was not found medially or anteromedially. The first branch of the lateral plantar nerve was indistinguishable from the trunk of the tibial nerve descending medially to between the lateral plantar and calcaneal nerves. The overall pattern of the medial plantar nerve was an internal rotation from anteromedial (proximal) to anterior (distally). It was not found posteriorly. The flexor hallucis longus motor branch was located an average of 17.9 cm (range, 10-24 cm) proximal to the MMC axis. Preliminary application of these data has facilitated surgical dissection and afforded an understanding of how tibial nerve trunk pathology correlates with clinical manifestations.