The lymphatic system functions to drain tissue fluid, plasma proteins and other cellular debris back into the blood stream, and is also involved in immune defence. Once this collection of substances enters the lymphatic vessels, it is known as lymph.
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Lymph is subsequently filtered by lymph nodes and directed into the venous system. This article will explore the anatomy of lymphatic drainage throughout the head and neck, and how this is relevant clinically. The lymphatic vessels of the head and neck can be divided into two major groups; superficial vessels and deep vessels.
The superficial vessels drain lymph from the scalp, face and neck into the superficial ring of lymph nodes at the junction of the neck and head.
What is lymphedema?
The deep lymphatic vessels of the head and neck arise from the deep cervical lymph nodes. The superficial lymph nodes of the head and neck receive lymph from the scalp, face and neck. They ultimately drain into the deep lymph nodes.
The efferent vessels from the deep cervical lymph nodes converge to form the jugular lymphatic trunks. They are numerous in number, but include the prelaryngeal, pretracheal, paratracheal, retropharyngeal, infrahyoid, jugulodigastric tonsilar , jugulo-omohyoid and supraclavicular nodes.
Manual lymph drainage
It receives lymph drainage from the abdominal cavity. This lymphatic tissue responds to pathogens that may be ingested or inhaled. The tonsils that make up the ring are as follows:. The palatine tonsils can become inflamed due to a viral or bacterial infection. In such a case, they appear red and enlarged, and are accompanied by enlarged jugulo-digastric lymph nodes. Chronic infection of the palatine tonsils can be treated with their removal, a tonsillectomy.
Manual Lymphatic Drainage
When performing a tonsillectomy, there may be bleeding primarily from the external palatine vein and secondarily from the tonsilar branch of the facial artery. This can cause deviation of the uvula, known as quinsy. A quinsy is a medical emergency, as it can potentially cause obstruction of the pharynx.
Fig 2 — Quinsy — inflammation of the peritonsillar tissue. Note also how the uvula has deviated to the right as a result of the inflammation.
It was thought that lymphatics were absent from the brain until in , scientists located lymphatic vessels in the brains of mice and subsequently humans. Work is underway to determine and describe the lymphatic vessels involved. Fig 1 — The superficial and deep lymph nodes of the head and neck. Once you've finished editing, click 'Submit for Review', and your changes will be reviewed by our team before publishing on the site.
Cookies help us deliver the best experience to all our users. The find out more about our cookies, click here. Lymphatic Vessels The lymphatic vessels of the head and neck can be divided into two major groups; superficial vessels and deep vessels.
Deep Vessels The deep lymphatic vessels of the head and neck arise from the deep cervical lymph nodes.
This empties into the venous system via the left subclavian vein. Right jugular lymphatic trunk — forms the right lymphatic duct at the root of the neck. This empties into the venous system via the right subclavian vein. Superficial Lymph Nodes The superficial lymph nodes of the head and neck receive lymph from the scalp, face and neck.
Lymphatic Drainage of the Head and Neck
They are located posterior to the ear and lie on the insertion of the sternocleidomastoid muscle into the mastoid process. They collect lymph from the posterior neck, upper ear and the back of the external auditory meatus the ear canal.
They are located anterior to the auricle of the ear, and collect lymph from the superficial areas of the face and temporal region.
There are also parotid lymph nodes deep to the parotid gland that drain the nasal cavities and the nasopharynx. They collect lymph from the central lower lip, the floor of the mouth and the apex of the tongue.
They are located below the mandible in the submandibular triangle and collect lymph from the cheeks, the lateral aspects of the nose, upper lip, lateral parts of the lower lip, gums and the anterior tongue.
They also receive lymph from the submental and facial lymph nodes. They collect lymph from the mucous membranes of the nose and cheek, eyelids and conjunctiva.
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By TeachMeSeries Ltd Clinical Relevance: Inflamed Palatine Tonsils Tonsillitis The palatine tonsils can become inflamed due to a viral or bacterial infection. Lymphatics of the Brain It was thought that lymphatics were absent from the brain until in , scientists located lymphatic vessels in the brains of mice and subsequently humans.
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