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Source and Direction of Thoracic Lymphatics: Part I—Upper Thorax

Aquino, Suzanne L.; Hayman, L. Anne; Loomis, Susanne L.; Taber, Katherine H.

Journal of Computer Assisted Tomography: March-April 2003 - Volume 27 - Issue 2 - p 292-296
Graphic Anatomy

The purpose of this set of two articles is to illustrate the source and direction of lymphatic drainage in the thorax on axial CT schematics. The first article describes the upper thorax. The second article will describe the lower thorax. The nodal groups are given conventional anatomic names and the corresponding terminology of the American Thoracic Society. Arrows indicate the direction of the flow. The region or organ drained is color-coded, and nodes that receive lymph from each area are assigned appropriately colored boxes. Major drainage patterns are also described. This information can be used to assess a suggestive lymph node by tracing it to the region of drainage and looking for pathological lesions. Alternatively, one may extrapolate the potential drainage routes of a tumor and scrutinize specific sites for nodal metastases.

From the Department of Radiology (S. L. Aquino, S. L. Loomis), Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA; Department of Radiology and Herbert J. Frensley Center for Imaging Research (L. A. Hayman, K. H. Taber), Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, U.S.A.

Address correspondence to Dr. Suzanne L. Aquino, Baylor College of Medicine, 1 Baylor Plaza, Houston, TX 77030–3498, U.S.A. E-mail:

© 2003 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.