Surgical and Radiologic Anatomy

, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 399–407 | Cite as

Direct lymphatic drainage from the esophagus into the thoracic duct

  • G Murakami
  • I Sato
  • K Shimada
  • C Dong
  • Y Kato
  • T Imazeki
Original Articles


The lymphatic vessels from around the esophagus which drain into the thoracic duct were identified macroscopically and histologically in 106 cadavers. Direct lymphatic drainage to the duct was macroscopically demonstrated by 84 vessels in 46 cases (43.4%). In 23 cases (19.8%), large collecting vessels arose from the thoracic esophagus and opened directly imto the duct. In most of these cases (15/23) these lymphatic connections were found at the levels of the 1st–3rd or 6th–8th thoracic vertebrae. Histologic study revealed that two vessels originated from the fine lymphatic plexus in the esophageal adventita, which showed monocytic infiltration. In 11 of the 23 cases, an intercalated node was found along the thoracic duct. The results suggest that lymph drains rapidly into the systemic circulation via the thoracic duct. In view of the clinical applications in esophageal carcinoma, previous accounts of the extramural esophageal lymphatics concerned in direct drainage are discussed.

Key words

Lymphatics Esophagus Thoracic duct Macroscopic anatomy Histology 

Drainage lymphatique direct de l'oesophage dans le conduit thoracique


Chez 106 cadavres de japonais adultes, nous avons mis en évidence, aussi bien macroscopiquement que microscopiquement, des vaisseaux lymphatiques péri-oesophagiens qui se drainaient dans le conduit thoracique. Macroscopiquement, le drainage lymphatique de l'oesophage dans le conduit thoracique existait chez 46 des 106 cadavres (43,4 %). 23 gros collecteurs ont été vus qui naissaient de l'oesophage thoracique et s'abouchaient directement dans le conduit thoracique chez 21 des 106 cadavres (19,8 %). Le plus souvent (15 des 23 gros collecteurs), ces lymphatiques reliaient l'oesophage au conduit thoracique au niveau des 1er-3ème ou des 6ème-8ème vertèbres thoraciques. D'après l'examen histologique de ces 23 gros collecteurs, 2 prenaient naissance à partir d'un fin plexus lymphatique de l'adventice de l'oesophage infiltré de cellules mononucléaires. Dans 11 cas sur 23, un lymphonoeud intermédiaire a été trouvé sur le conduit thoracique grâce à des “clearing methods”. Ces résultats suggèrent que la lymphe de l'oesophage se draine rapidement dans la circulation systémique par l'intermédiaire du conduit thoracique. Importantes en clinique dans le cancer de l'oesophage, les descriptions antérieures de lymphatiques extrapariétaux de l'oesophage ont été discutées à propos de ce drainage lymphatique direct de l'oesophage.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • G Murakami
    • 1
  • I Sato
    • 2
  • K Shimada
    • 3
  • C Dong
    • 1
  • Y Kato
    • 1
  • T Imazeki
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnatomyNihon University, School of MedicineTokyoJapan
  2. 2.Department of AnatomyNippon Dental University, School of Dentistry at TokyoTokyoJapan
  3. 3.Department of AnatomyShowa University, School of MedicineTokyoJapan

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