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A firm knowledge of the location and distribution of the lymph nodes of the neck or cervical region is important as the finding of enlarged cervical lymph nodes is common during clinical examination. Enlarged lymph nodes in the cervical region may be caused by inflammation or neoplasia. Lymph nodes are a small part of the larger lymphatic system and they are an important part of the immune system as well as the circulatory system.
The functions of the lymph nodes include the generation of of mature antigen primed B- an T-cells. For this reason, they are regarded as centers of antigen presentation. In addition, activation, differentiation and proliferation also occur within the lymph nodes. These small oval shaped bodies also filter particles and microbes from lymph with the help of numerous phagocytic macrophages.
In the neck or cervical region, lymph nodes are arranged in two horizontal rings and two vertical chains on both sides of the neck.
The outer ring of lymph nodes, which are the more superficial lymph nodes, primarily receive lymph from adjacent organs or areas. These superficial lymph nodes are found close to the surface in the neck region and they include the preauricular or parotid lymph nodes, the submandibular lymph nodes and the submental lymph nodes.
In contrast to the superficial lymph nodes of the neck, the deep cervical lymph nodes, which mainly consist of collecting nodes, are found near the internal jugular vein.
The superficial cervical lymph nodes can also be grouped according to their distribution as either superficial anterior cervical lymph nodes or superficial lateral cervical lymph nodes.
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