The lymphatic system is the body system that circulates the “lymph” fluid, which is used to remove waste products. The system consists of the lymph nodes (or lymph glands) and the lymphatic vessels. Lymphatic symptoms include swollen lymph nodes, swollen spleen, lymph node pain, and other lymph gland symptoms. Lymphatic disorders include lymphadenopathy, lymphedema, lymphoma (Hodgkin’s Lymphoma or Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma), and various other disorders.
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The lymph system is made up of the following:
- Lymph: Colorless, watery fluid that carries white blood cells called lymphocytes through the lymph system. Lymphocytes protect the body against infections and the growth of tumors.
- Lymph vessels: A network of thin tubes that collect lymph from different parts of the body and return it to the bloodstream.
- Lymph nodes: Small, bean-shaped structures that filter lymph and store white blood cells that help fight infection and disease. Lymph nodes are located along the network of lymph vessels found throughout the body. Clusters of lymph nodes are found in the neck, underarm, abdomen, pelvis, and groin.
- Spleen: An organ that makes lymphocytes, filters the blood, stores blood cells, and destroys old blood cells. It is located on the left side of the abdomen near the stomach.
- Thymus: An organ in which lymphocytes grow and multiply. The thymus is in the chest behind the breastbone.
- Tonsils: Two small masses of lymph tissue at the back of the throat. The tonsils make lymphocytes.
- Bone marrow: The soft, spongy tissue in the center of large bones. Bone marrow makes white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets.
Source: NCI (NIH)1
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Lymphatic system: The lymphatic system is a network of vessels and tissues composed of lymph, an extracellular fluid, and lymphoid organs, such as lymph nodes. The lymphatic system is a conduit for travel and communication between tissues and the bloodstream. Immune cells are carried through the lymphatic system and converge in lymph nodes, which are found throughout the body.
Lymph nodes are a communication hub where immune cells sample information brought in from the body. For instance, if adaptive immune cells in the lymph node recognize pieces of a microbe brought in from a distant area, they will activate, replicate, and leave the lymph node to circulate and address the pathogen. Thus, doctors may check patients for swollen lymph nodes, which may indicate an active immune response.
Source: NIAID (NIH)2
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Read about these related anatomy topics:
- Lymph nodes
- Lymphatic vessels
- Bone marrow
- Thyroid Gland
- Immune response
Read about these related symptoms:
- Lymphatic Symptoms: The lymphatic system is a system with a set of lymph nodes (lymph glands) that are joined by channels. Lymph nodes are also called lymph glands. The most common symptom
... More on Lymphatic Symptoms »
- Swollen Lymph Nodes: Swollen lymph nodes, or lymph glands, are a common symptom in infection and disease. The medical term is Lymphadenopathy. There are various different lymph nodes in the neck, underarm, groin
... More on Swollen Lymph Nodes »
- Spleen enlargement: Spleen enlargement or a swollen spleen is called splenomegaly. It often occurs along with liver enlargement (hepatomegaly) and together the two symptoms are called hepatosplenomegaly. The spleen is an organ
... More on Spleen enlargement »
- Growth symptoms: Growth symptoms refers to symptoms regarding the normal process of body growth, and hence is usually related to infants or children. Growth symptoms usually refer to abnormality in the entire
... More on Growth symptoms »
Disease and Condition Articles
Read about these related conditions and diseases:
- Lymphatic disorder: The lymphatic system is a network of tissues and organs. It is made up of
....Lymph - a fluid that contains white blood cells that defend against germs
....Lymph vessels - vessels4
... More on Lymphatic disorder »
- Lymphadenopathy: Summary:
Enlargment (swelling) of a lymph node.5,6
... More on Lymphadenopathy »
- Lymphedema: Lymphedema is the name of a type of swelling. It happens when lymph builds up in your body's soft tissues. Lymph is a fluid that contains white blood cells that7
... More on Lymphedema »
- Lymphoma: Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic gland tissue. Its main symptom is lymph node enlargement (lymphadenopathy) and lymphoma can result in a single swollen lymph node or an enlargement
... More on Lymphoma »
- Hodgkin’s Lymphoma: Hodgkin disease is a type of lymphoma. Lymphoma is a cancer of a part of the immune system called the lymph system. The first sign of Hodgkin disease is often8
... More on Hodgkin’s Lymphoma »
Related Symptom Topics
Read more about these related symptoms:More »
Related Disease and Condition Topics
Read about these diseases and medical conditions related to Lymphatic system:More »
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- Source: NCI (NIH): cancer.gov/ types/ lymphoma/ patient/ adult-hodgkin-treatment-pdq
- Source: NIAID (NIH): niaid.nih.gov/ topics/ immuneSystem/ Pages/ overview.aspx
- Source: MeSH (U.S. National Library of Medicine)
- Source: MedLinePlus (NIH): medlineplus.gov/ lymphaticdiseases.html
- [from HPO]
- Source: GTR (NCBI/NIH): ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/ gtr/ conditions/ C0497156/
- Source: MedLinePlus (NIH): medlineplus.gov/ lymphedema.html
- Source: MedLinePlus (NIH): medlineplus.gov/ hodgkindisease.html
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Note: This site is for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. See your doctor or other qualified medical professional for all your medical needs.