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Lymphatics of the pancreas, duodenum and spleen: want to learn more about it?

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Lymphatics of the pancreas, duodenum and spleen

Learning objectives

This study guide will help you to: 

  1. Develop an understanding of the lymphatic drainage of the pancreas, duodenum and spleen.
  2. Name and identify the main lymph nodes which drain the pancreas, duodenum and spleen.  

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The lymphatic system is a specialised system made up of lymphatic vessels and organs which transports lymph from tissues around the body back into the bloodstream. 

The lymphatic drainage of the pancreas, duodenum and spleen is closely related to their arterial supply. For example, as in the case of the arterial supply of the pancreas, the lymphatic drainage of the head of the pancreas is different than of the body and tail. Similarly, the lymphatic drainage of the superior part of the duodenum is different from its inferior part.

Lymphatic capillaries within the pancreas, duodenum and spleen collect lymph from these tissues and transport it into adjacent lymph nodes. The lymph is then passed along a series of lymph nodes to reach the terminal lymph nodes, which in this case, are known as the pre-aortic lymph nodes. The pre-aortic lymph nodes consist of three groups of nodes, the celiac, superior mesenteric and inferior mesenteric lymph nodes out of which the former two drain the pancreas, duodenum and spleen. 

Find out more about the lymph nodes involved in the lymphatics of the pancreas, duodenum and spleen by watching the video below!

Want to find out more about the basics of how the lymphatic system works? Check out the video below!

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Summary

Key points about the lymphatics of the pancreas, duodenum and spleen
Pancreas - Head of pancreas:
Superior pancreaticoduodenal lymph nodes → hepatic lymph nodes → celiac lymph nodes → cisterna chyli
Inferior pancreaticoduodenal lymph nodes → superior mesenteric lymph nodes → celiac lymph nodes → cisterna chyli

- Body and tail of pancreas:
Superior and inferior pancreatic lymph nodes → celiac lymph nodes → cisterna chyli

- Tail of pancreas:
Splenic lymph nodes → celiac lymph nodes → cisterna chyli
Duodenum Superior part of duodenum:
Pyloric lymph nodes → hepatic lymph nodes → celiac lymph nodes → cisterna chyli

Ascending part of duodenum:
Inferior pancreatic lymph nodes → celiac lymph nodes → cisterna chyli
Superior mesenteric lymph nodes → cisterna chyli

Rest of duodenum:
Superior pancreaticoduodenal lymph nodes → hepatic lymph nodes → celiac lymph nodes → cisterna chyli
Inferior pancreaticoduodenal lymph nodes → superior mesenteric lymph nodes → celiac lymph nodes → cisterna chyli
Spleen Splenic nodes → celiac lymph nodes → cisterna chyli

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