Structures Of The Human Lymphatic System

See figure 9-7 for an illustration of the human lymphatic system.

Figure 9-7. The human lymphatic system.

a. Lymphatic Capillaries. Lymphatic capillaries are located in the interstitial spaces. Here, they absorb the excess fluids.

b. Lymph Vessels. A tributary system of vessels collects these excess fluids, now called lymph. Like veins, lymphatic vessels are supplied with valves to help maintain a flow of lymph in one direction only. The lymphatic vessels, to a greater or lesser extent, parallel the venous vessels along the way. The major lymph vessel in the human body is called the thoracic duct. The thoracic duct passes from the abdomen up through the thorax and into the root of the neck in front of the vertebral column. The thoracic duct there empties into the junction of the left subclavian and jugular veins.

c. Lymph Nodes. Along the way, lymphatic vessels are interrupted by special structures known as lymph nodes. These lymph nodes serve as special filters for the lymph fluid passing through.

d. Tonsils. Tonsils are special collections of lymphoid tissue, very similar to a group of lymph nodes. These are protective structures and are located primarily at the entrances of the respiratory and digestive systems.

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