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Anatomy of the lymphatics of the neck

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Anatomy of the lymphatics of the neck

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Figure 1: Superficial lymphatic drainage of the head and neck, lateral view

Figure 2: Deep lymphatic drainage of the head and neck, lateral view.

Figure 3: Lymphatic drainage of the cervical viscera, anterior view.

Lymph nodes
Drains
Submental lymph nodes
Chin and lower lip
Submandibular lymph nodes
Face inferior to the eye and from the mouth
Superficial cervical lymph nodes
Superficial surfaces of the anterior neck
Buccal lymph nodes
Nose and cheek
Parotid lymph nodes
Lateral side of the face and scalp
Preauricular lymph nodes
Superficial areas of the face and temporal region
Mastoid lymph nodes
Posterior neck, upper ear, and lateral scalp
Occipital lymph nodes
Occipital area of the scalp
Prelaryngeal lymph nodes
Thyroid gland
Parathyroid glands
Larynx inferior to the vocal folds
Cervical esophagus (paratracheal nodes)
Pretracheal lymph nodes
Paratracheal lymph nodes
Retropharyngeal lymph nodes
Jugulodigastric (tonsillar) lymph nodes (superior deep cervical nodes)
Prelaryngeal nodes
Larynx superior to the vocal folds
Jugulo-omohyoid lymph nodes (inferior deep cervical nodes)
Pretracheal and paratracheal nodes
Questions
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A young child is brought to their family doctor after they suffered a lower lip infection following a small cut. Where might the family doctor palpate enlarged lymph nodes?

Transcript

Whenever we go to the doctor's office with what we think is a respiratory infection, they will often feel for ‘nodes’ in the neck.

What they are feeling for are the lymph nodes in our neck, which drain the head and neck, and become enlarged when there is an infection.

Enlarged lymph nodes can also indicate other clinical conditions such as cancers, so by understanding the anatomy of the lymph nodes in the neck and their drainage, this can help with clinical diagnosis!

So, the lymphatics of the head and neck can be divided in two groups: a superficial group of nodes and a vertical group of deep lymph nodes.

So, the superficial lymph nodes receive lymph from the scalp, face and neck.

There are 8 groups of superficial lymph nodes which extend from underneath the chin to the posterior aspect of the head and they are represented by the occipital, mastoid, preauricular, parotid, submental, submandibular, buccal and superficial cervical lymph nodes.

The occipital lymph nodes are located in the back of the head at the lateral border of the trapezius muscle and collect lymph from the occipital area of the scalp.

The mastoid lymph nodes are also called retroauricular lymph nodes and they are located posterior to the ear.

Specifically, they lie on the insertion of the SCM into the mastoid process, and they collect lymph from the posterior neck, upper ear and lateral scalp.

The preauricular lymph nodes are located anterior to the auricle of the ear and collect lymph from the superficial areas of the face and temporal region.

The parotid lymph nodes are located superficial to the parotid gland and collect lymph from the lateral side of the face and scalp.

The submental lymph nodes are located in the submental triangle superficial to the mylohyoid muscle and collect lymph from the chin and lower lip.

The submandibular lymph nodes are located below the mandible in the submandibular triangle and collect lymph from the face inferior to the eye and from the mouth.

The buccal lymph nodes collect lymph from the nose and cheek.

The superficial cervical lymph nodes are located close to the external and anterior jugular veins and collect lymph from the superficial surfaces of the anterior neck.