Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Infected Lymph Glands in the Neck Anatomy

To better understand cervical lymphadenitis, it helps to understand the anatomy of the lymphatic system.

The lymphatic system performs two major functions:

  • Stores and transports cells that fight infection
  • Removes excess fluid from body tissues

The lymphatic system consists of:
  • Lymph vessels:
    • A network of vessels throughout the body that transport white blood cells called lymphocytes.
    • There are two main types of lymphocytes: B-cells and T-cells.
  • Lymph glands:
    • The lymph vessels connect in many areas known as lymph nodes.
    • The nodes act as filters to fight infection in the body.
    • Lymph nodes can enlarge in response to inflammation.
    • This can occur due to cancer or an infection nearby the lymph vessels.

Anatomy examples:
  • Areas of lymph nodes in the body
  • Areas in the body where lymph nodes can be felt
  • Abnormal lymph node cells due to Hodgkin's disease
  • Lymphatic system around the armpit and breast
  • Lymphatic system in the abdomen

Last Updated: Nov 3, 2008 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Infected Lymph Glands in the Neck References
  1. Centkowski P, Sawczuk-Chabin J, Prochorec M, Warzocha K. Hodgkin's lymphoma and tuberculosis coexistence in cervical lymph nodes. Leuk Lymphoma. 2005 Mar;46(3):471-5. [15621842]
  2. Chao SS, Loh KS, Tan KK, Chong SM. Tuberculous and nontuberculous cervical lymphadenitis: a clinical review. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2002 Feb;126(2):176-9. [11870349]
  3. Lerberg KM, Stiles M, Johnson S, Crawford P. Clinical inquiries. What evaluation is best for an isolated, enlarged cervical lymph node? J Fam Pract. 2007 Feb;56(2):147-8. [17270124]
  4. Leung AK, Robson WL. Childhood cervical lymphadenopathy. J Pediatr Health Care. 2004 Jan-Feb;18(1):3-7. [14722499]
  5. Lin HC, Su CY, Huang CC, Hwang CF, Chien CY. Kikuchi's disease: a review and analysis of 61 cases. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2003 May;128(5):650-3. [12748557]
  6. Peters TR, Edwards KM. Cervical lymphadenopathy and adenitis. Pediatr Rev. 2000 Dec;21(12):399-405. [11121496]
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