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Cervical lymph nodes

The cervical lymph nodes, commonly known as the lymph nodes of the neck, are a large group of lymph nodes that can be classified into several groups. These groups of nodes include:

  • The superficial anterior cervical lymph nodes that are situated adjacent to the anterior jugular vein. These nodes drain lymph from the infrahyoid region, isthmus of the thyroid gland, inferior larynx to the deep lateral cervical lymph nodes.
  • The deep anterior cervical lymph nodes that are situated mostly in the midline and can be divided into four groups of nodes including the prelaryngeal, thyroid, paratracheal and pretracheal nodes. They drain lymph from the larynx, trachea, and thyroid to the deep lateral cervical lymph nodes. 
  • The superficial lateral cervical lymph nodes that are situated adjacent to the external jugular vein. They drain lymph from the parotid nodes to the supraclavicular nodes. 
  • The deep lateral cervical lymph nodes that are situated adjacent to the internal jugular vein. They can be subdivided into superior and inferior groups. These nodes receive the majority of lymph from the head and neck region and drain to the jugular trunk. 
  • The accessory lymph nodes that are the most lateral group of cervical nodes, located adjacent to the accessory nerve. These nodes drain lymph from the lateral neck, pharynx and shoulder regions and empty into the supraclavicular nodes.
  • The supraclavicular lymph nodes that are situated at the root of the neck. These nodes receive lymph from the deep lateral cervical lymphatic vessels and empty into the jugular trunk on each side. 
  • The retropharyngeal lymph nodes that are situated posterior to the pharynx. These nodes receive afferents from the nasal cavities, paranasal sinuses, soft palate, palatine arch, outer and middle ear and drain into the superior and inferior deep lateral cervical lymph nodes of the neck.

In summary, all lymphatic vessels from the head and neck drain directly or indirectly into the deep cervical lymph nodes. Lymph from these deep nodes passes to the jugular lymphatic trunk, which joins the thoracic duct on the left side and the internal jugular vein or brachiocephalic vein on the right side.

Terminology English: Cervical lymph nodes
English synonym
: Lymph nodes of the neck
: Nodi lymphoidei cervicales
Latin synonyms:
Nodi lymphatici cervicales, Lymphonodi cervicales
Main groups Superficial anterior cervical lymph nodes
Deep anterior cervical lymph nodes
Superficial lateral cervical lymph nodes
Deep lateral cervical lymph nodes
Accessory lymph nodes
Supraclavicular lymph nodes
Retropharyngeal lymph nodes
Function Lymph nodes of the neck filter and transport lymph from surrounding lymph nodes and viscera back into the bloodstream

Learn all about the lymph nodes of the head and neck with the following study unit: 

Cervical lymph nodes: want to learn more about it?

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