Background: The authors previously reported a new technique with which to delineate the lymphatic vessels, using hydrogen peroxide to identify them and a lead oxide suspension to demonstrate them on radiographs. This technique provided excellent studies of the lymph vessels in human cadavers, but there was still room for improvement.
Methods: Lymph collecting vessels run superficially in some regions, where they may be damaged while the surgeon is attempting to find them. Vessels smaller than 0.3 mm in diameter could not be cannulated with a 30-gauge needle, which was the smallest the authors had available, and the lead oxide suspension often blocked this cannula. The authors also encountered problems holding the cannula steady.
Results: The authors solved these problems by using a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and ink to better identify the lymphatics, an extruded glass tube instead of a metal needle to cannulate them, an agate pestle and mortar to grind the lead oxide into finer particles, powdered milk to suspend the lead oxide, and a micromanipulator to facilitate accurate and steady cannulation of the vessels.
Conclusion: This study developed these modifications to focus on tributaries of the collecting lymphatic channels that are smaller than 0.3 mm in diameter.