The normal lymphatic system
Function of the lymphatic system
The lymphatic system’s primary function is to absorb and transport throughout the body. The lymphatic system functions in parallel to the circulatory system, but it is made up of its own circuit of lymph vessels, nodes, and lymphoid tissues. Lymph fluid is made of proteins, water, impurities, and waste products from the body’s tissues. In addition, the system produces and transports immune cells (lymphocytes) that fight bacteria and viruses.
Lymph fluid is normally absorbed from body tissues and moves through a series of vessels and lymph nodes, As the fluid passes through the nodes, it is purified of harmful bacteria and viruses. The lymphatic system has regional networks of vessels that are responsible for handling fluid from specific body tissues.
The superficial lymphatic system
The superficial lymphatic system is made up of vessels and nodes that are located just under the superficial skin. Key areas include:
Axillary lymph nodes which are located in the armpits and filter fluid from the chest, breast, arm, and back;
Inguinal lymph nodes which are located in the bend of the hip and filter fluid from the leg, lower abdomen, buttock, and genital region.
The Deep lymphatic system
The deep lymphatic system is made up of larger vessels that are more centrally located and found in the deeper tissues in the body. Key areas include:
Supraclavicular and deep cervical lymph nodes which are located above the collar bone and along the sides of the neck and filter fluid from the head and neck;
Deep abodminal/pelvic lymph nodes which are located in the abdomen and surround the organs and intestines in the deeper body cavity; this system of lymph nodes is important to the transport of fluid from all of the lower parts of the body.
Lymphoid tissue is found in other areas of the body as well, including the tonsils, spleen, intestinal wall, and bone marrow.