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Lymphatics of the posterior abdominal and pelvic wall: want to learn more about it?

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Lymphatics of the posterior abdominal and pelvic wall

Learning objectives:

After completing this study unit will should be able to:

  1. Recognize how posterior abdominal and pelvic lymphatics are distributed along and named after their associated arteries/veins.
  2. Name the main lymph node groups of the posterior abdominal and pelvic walls.
  3. Describe the lymph drainage pathway in those regions.

Watch video

There are several groups of lymph nodes present in the posterior abdominal and pelvic walls. Most of those groups are named according to their anatomical relationship to the aorta/inferior vena cava and their branches/tributaries.

The main lymph node groups of this region are the lumbar lymph nodes, composed of the right lumbar (caval), intermediate lumbar and left lumbar (aortic) nodes. Those structures receive lymph from abdominal organs and also from the common, internal and external iliac lymph nodes, which drain the pelvic organs.

The lymph is then drained by lymph trunks:

  • Left lumbar lymph trunk: drains left lumbar lymph nodes
  • Right lumbar lymph trunk: drains right lumbar and intermediate lumbar lymph nodes.
  • Intestinal lymph trunk: drains celiac, superior mesenteric and phrenic lymph nodes.
  • Cisterna chyli: receives the lymph from the trunks mentioned above (directly or indirectly) and ultimately drains all the lymph from the posterior abdomen and pelvis.

Watch the video below to understand the lymphatic drainage of the posterior abdominal wall and pelvis:

Take a quiz

Take the quiz below to test your knowledge on the lymphatics of the posterior abdominal wall and pelvis:

For a more comprehensive test on the abdominal and pelvic lymphatics try our customizable quiz:

Browse atlas

Our atlas gallery can help you visualize all the structures you learned about so far:

Summary

Key points about the lymphatics of the posterior abdominal wall
Main trunks Cisterna chyli: ultimately drains most of the lymph from the posterior abdominal wall, pelvis and lower limbs
Intestinal lymph trunk:
drains phrenic, celiac, superior mesenteric, and some inferior mesenteric lymph nodes
Left lumbar lymph trunk:
drains left lumbar lymph nodes (may receive intestinal lymph trunk)
Right lumbar lymph trunk:
drains right lumbar and intermediate lymph nodes
Main abdominal lymph node groups Phrenic nodes: drain inferior surface of diaphragm, abdominal part of esophagus, and suprarenal glands
Celiac nodes:
drain stomach, duodenum, pancreas, liver, spleen, and greater omentum
Superior mesenteric nodes:
drain jejunum, ileum, cecum, vermiform appendix, ascending, and transverse colons
Inferior mesenteric nodes:
drain regions irrigated by the inferior mesenteric artery
Left/right lumbar nodes:
directly drain kidneys, superior abdominal part of ureters, gonads, also receives efferents from GIT
Main pelvic lymph node groups Common, internal and external iliac lymph nodes: drain the pelvis and the lower limbs

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