Thoracic duct

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Azygos vein and thoracic duct

The ductus thoracicus (from Latin ductus 'gang' and ancient Greek θώραξ thṓrax , German 'chest' , Latin thorax ) is a lymphatic trunk in the chest cavity and thus part of the lymphatic system . This gait was first described in the 17th century by Jean Pecquet in dogs , and in humans a few years later by Thomas Bartholin .

The thoracic duct begins in the lumbar cistern ( cisterna chyli ), a lymph collecting sac anterior to the first lumbar vertebrae , which collects all of the lymph from the abdominal cavity , pelvic cavity and legs (or hind limbs). Since a large part of the fats absorbed in the intestine is transported away via the lymph, the lymph has a milky, cloudy appearance after ingestion, which is why the thoracic duct is also known in German as the " breast duct ".

The thoracic duct runs from the lumbar cistern, between the descending aorta and the spinal column, through the aortic hiatus of the diaphragm into the thoracic cavity and lies to the right of the aorta . At the level of the 5th thoracic vertebra, it then moves to the left and henceforth runs behind the esophagus, between the aorta and the spine. In the thoracic cavity, the thoracic duct takes up the lymph from the thoracic organs, and in humans also that of the left arm (subclavian trunk) and the left side of the head and neck ( tracheal trunk ), and flows into the left vein angle (confluence of the subclavian vein and jugular vein interna to the brachiocephalic vein).

A rupture of the thoracic duct leads to the discharge of lymph into the chest cavity ( chylothorax ).

See also


  • U. Gille: Cardiovascular and immune system, Angiologia. In: F.-V. Salomon et al. (Ed.): Anatomy for veterinary medicine. Enke-Verlag, Stuttgart 2004, ISBN 3-8304-1007-7 , pp. 404-463.

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