Thoracic Lymphatics Case Study
The thoracic cavity has complex networks of lymphatics which have a fundamental immunological function protecting intrathoracic organs such as the lungs, pleura, oesophagus and mediastinum. These networks drain interstitial fluid from the lungs, chyle from the gastrointestinal tract, and white blood cells and other immune components (Brotons et al., 2012). Thoracic lymphatics are involved in several diseases that most thoracic surgeons are concerned about. The most important pathologies affecting thoracic lymphatics are cancers spreading from intrathoracic organs. As lymphatic involvement by cancerous cells guide tumour staging, prognosis and management (Brotons et al., 2012), it is crucial to have a good understanding of thoracic …show more content…
In this essay, the lymphatic drainage of the thoracic cavity will be discussed, and an emphasis will be put on explaining the likely route of metastasis of cancer cells from a lesion in the lower lobe of the right lung via the …show more content…
Both trunks unite at the aortopulmonary window to reach the lymph nodes located there (Brotons et al., 2012).
The lymphatics of the diaphragm drain into three main lymph pathways: anteriorly to internal thoracic lymph vessels and nodes, medially to the phrenic, pulmonary ligament and intertracheobronchial lymph nodes; and posteriorly into the thoracic duct either directly or through juxtaaortic lymph nodes (Souilamas et al., 2001).
The thymus gland is a primary lymphoid organ so it does not receive any afferent lymphatics. Nevertheless, the thymus drains into 3 groups of lymph nodes via efferent lymphatics: the superior lymphatic vessels emptying into the internal jugular, innominate, or anterior mediastinal nodes; the anterior lymphatics draining into the parasternal nodes; and the posterior lymphatic ducts draining into the tracheobronchial nodes (Safieddine and Keshavjee,