Anatomical Features of the Deep Cervical Lymphatic System and Intrajugular Lymphatic Vessels in Humans.

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Yağmurlu K., Sokolowski J. D., Çırak M., Urgun K., Soldozy S., Mut M., ...More

Brain sciences, vol.10, 2020 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 10
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • Doi Number: 10.3390/brainsci10120953
  • Journal Name: Brain sciences
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, EMBASE, Directory of Open Access Journals
  • Keywords: deep cervical lymph nodes, meningeal lymphatics, neurolymphatic system, jugular foramen, neck anatomy, lymphatic channels, head and neck cancer, metastasis, NECK DISSECTION, BRAIN, DRAINAGE, NODES
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


Background: Studies in rodents have re-kindled interest in the study of lymphatics in the central nervous system. Animal studies have demonstrated that there is a connection between the subarachnoid space and deep cervical lymph nodes (DCLNs) through dural lymphatic vessels located in the skull base and the parasagittal area. Objective: To describe the connection of the DCLNs and lymphatic tributaries with the intracranial space through the jugular foramen, and to address the anatomical features and variations of the DCLNs and associated lymphatic channels in the neck. Methods: Twelve formalin-fixed human head and neck specimens were studied. Samples from the dura of the wall of the jugular foramen were obtained from two fresh human cadavers during rapid autopsy. The samples were immunostained with podoplanin and CD45 to highlight lymphatic channels and immune cells, respectively. Results: The mean number of nodes for DCLNs was 6.91 +/- 0.58 on both sides. The mean node length was 10.1 +/- 5.13 mm, the mean width was 7.03 +/- 1.9 mm, and the mean thickness was 4 +/- 1.04 mm. Immunohistochemical staining from rapid autopsy samples demonstrated that lymphatic vessels pass from the intracranial compartment into the neck through the meninges at the jugular foramen, through tributaries that can be called intrajugular lymphatic vessels. Conclusions: The anatomical features of the DCLNs and their connections with intracranial lymphatic structures through the jugular foramen represent an important possible route for the spread of cancers to and from the central nervous system; therefore, it is essential to have an in-depth understanding of the anatomy of these lymphatic structures and their variations.