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Cisterna chyli

Recommended video: Lymphatics of the posterior abdominal wall [18:53]
Lymph nodes and vessels of the posterior abdominal wall.

The cisterna chyli is a dilated sac that marks the beginning of the thoracic duct. It contains chyle, which is formed by fatty molecules or emulsified fats and lymph.

The cisterna chyli is located behind the abdominal aorta. This is anterior to the bodies of the first and second lumbar vertebrae (L1 and L2). It serves as the origin point for the thoracic duct. The thoracic duct is the primary lymph vessel that is responsible for transporting lymph and chyle from the abdomen through the aortic hiatus of the diaphragm, to the junction of the left subclavian vein and internal jugular veins.

The thoracic duct commonly receives lymph from both the right and left lumbar trunks, the intestinal trunk, and certain lower intercostal vessels. The lumbar trunks, gather lymph from the pelvis, kidneys, suprarenal glands and much of the abdominal wall.

Terminology: Latin: Cisterna chyli
English: Cisterna chyli
Location: Posterior to abdominal aorta, anterior to vertebrae L1 and L2
Function: Collection point for lymphfrom the lower body and posterior abdominal wall

Explore further details about the cisterna chyli and the lymphatics of the posterior abdominal wall in this study unit:

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