Lymph Node Overview

Lymph nodes generally occur in groups along the larger lymphatic vessels. They are distributed throughout the body, but they lack the tissues of the central nervous system. The primary function of every lymph node is production of lymphocytes, which help defend the body against microorganisms and against harmful foreign particles; and the removal of debris from lymph before it is returned to the blood stream. The lymph nodes have major clusters in six areas. In the cervical region, the nodes...

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    Full Lymph Node Overview Description

    [Continued from above] . . . are grouped along the lower border of the jaw, in front of and behind the ears, and deep in the neck along the larger blood vessels. They drain the skin of the scalp, face, tissues of the nasal cavity, and the pharynx. In the axillary region, the lymph nodes are in the underarm region and receive lymph from vessels that drain the arm, the walls of the thorax, the breast, and the upper walls of the abdomen. In the inguinal region, the nodes receive lymph from the legs, the outer portion of the genitalia and the lower abdominal wall; in the pelvic cavity, the nodes appear mostly along the paths of the blood vessels within the pelvic cavity and receive lymph from the lymphatic vessels in the area; in the abdominal cavity, lymph nodes occur in chains along the main branches of the arteries of the intestine and the abdominal aorta; and finally in the thoracic cavity: these lymph nodes occur between the lungs and along the windpipe and bronchi, and receive lymph from this area and from the internal wall of the thorax.

    The popliteal and inguinal nodes are in the legs and groin, the lumbar nodes in the pelvic region, the axillary nodes in the armpits, the cervical nodes in the chest. Hodgkin's disease is an enlargement of the lymph nodes in the neck, which gradually spreads throughout the lymphatic system, including the spleen. Pressure on adjoining organs and nerve endings can result in a dysfunction of vital organs or in paralysis.