Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Lymphadenitis Anatomy

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

The lymphatic system consists of a network of lymph vessels and lymph nodes throughout the body. The system transports a type of white blood cell, called lymphocytes. These cells play a role in fighting infection.

There are two main types of lymphocytes:

  • B lymphocytes
  • T lymphocytes

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: Dec 17, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Lymphadenitis References
  1. Bhat NA, Hock YL, Turner NO, Das Gupta AR. Kikuchi's disease of the neck (histiocytic necrotizing lymphadenitis). J Laryngol Otol. 1998 Sep;112(9):898-900. [9876390]
  2. Brook I, Frazier EH. Microbiology of cervical lymphadenitis in adults. Acta Otolaryngol. 1998 Jun;118(3):443-6. [9655225]
  3. 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]
  4. Durlach RA, Kaufer F, Carral L, Hirt J. Toxoplasmic lymphadenitis--clinical and serologic profile. Clin Microbiol Infect. 2003 Jul;9(7):625-31. [12925102]
  5. Giovagnorio F, Rusticali A, Araneo AL. Color and pulsed Doppler evaluation of benign and malignant adenopathy. Clin Imaging. 1997 May-Jun;21(3):163-9. [9156303]
  6. Sang H, Wu B, Zhang X. Cervical lymphadenitis caused by Candida albicans. Mycoses. 2003;46(9-10):422-4. [14622393]
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