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Encyclopedia > Lymph nodes

Lymph nodes are components of the lymphatic system. Clusters of lymph nodes are found in the underarms, groin, neck, chest, and abdomen. Lymph nodes act as filters, with an internal honeycomb of connective tissue filled with lymphocytes that collect and destroy bacteria and viruses. When the body is fighting an infection, these lymphocytes multiply rapidly and produce a characteristic swelling of the lymph nodes.

The spleen and tonsils are large lymphoid organs that serve similar functions, though the spleen does not filter lymph but blood.


Lymph nodes of the head and neck

Anterior Cervical

These nodes, both superficial and deep, lie above and beneath the sternocleidomastoid muscles. They drain the internal structures of the throat as well as part of the posterior pharynx, tonsils, and thyroid gland.

Posterior Cervical

These nodes extend in a line posterior to the sternocleidomastoids but in front of the trapezius, from the level of the mastoid bone to the clavicle. They drain the skin on the back of the head. They are frequently enlarged during upper respiratory infections.


These nodes are located just below the angle of the mandible. They drain the tonsilar and posterior pharyngeal regions.


These nodes run along the underside of the jaw on either side. They drain the structures in the floor of the mouth.


These nodes are just below the chin. They drain the teeth and intra-oral cavity.

Supra clavicular

These nodes are in the hollow above the clavicle, just lateral to where it joins the sternum. They drain a part of the throacic cavity and abdomen.

Immune system - Lymphatic system

Lymph nodes - Lymph - Lymphocytes - Lymph vessels - Thoracic duct

Bone marrow - Spleen - Thymus - Tonsils

  Results from FactBites:
Biopsy (0 words)
Sentinel lymph node biopsy is a procedure in which one sentinel lymph node (sometimes more than one and sometimes just a portion of one) is removed and examined under a microscope to determine whether cancer cells are present.
Lymph node biopsy can be done surgically (open biopsy) or by needle, depending on the location of the area being tested and the reason it is being tested.
For a regional lymph node dissection, some of the lymph nodes in the tumor area are removed; for a radical lymph node dissection, most or all of the lymph nodes in the tumor area are removed.
  More results at FactBites »



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