Lymphatic system

Introduction: The Lymph

Author:

vlasakDr. Med. René Vlasák

Centrum preventivní medicíny & Prevence 2000

(The Centre of Preventive Medicine & Prevention 2000)

A surgeon, a chief doctor and a founder of The Centre of Preventive Medicine & Prevention 2000 Ltd. Until 1993 was working at 1st surgical clinics of VFN in Prague. For more than 20 years he has worked in the field of obesity research. He has been the first to have described the so called Metabolic Y syndrome  of gynoid type obesity. Since 1995 he has worked in the field of lymphology and has been a member of the revision commission of the Czech lymphological society. As a surgeon he has engaged in leg vein operations.

 

In the introductory passage on the lymph, let me paraphrase the Kipling’s quote from the Jungle Book: “We are of the same blood – both you and I.” In our case, “We are of the same lymph, both you and I.” suits our case better.

The lymph, more than blood, binds us not only to fauna, but also to flora. The lymphatic system is in fact our ecosystem. In parallel with the nature, its functional rudiment is water circulation without which life on Earth is not possible. Water represents 60-70% of our body weight. It is proportioned into cell water (intracellular fluid) and water outside the cell (extracellular) which can further be divided into plasma, tissue fluid and the lymph.

           The lymphatic system can be compared to the system of Dutch canals. (image source: http://i3.cn.cz)

Blood, the liquid necessary for life, flows from the heart through arteries and delivers oxygen and nutrition. The arteries further divide into smaller arterioles and capillaries, the tiniest arteries. It is capillaries in particular, where blood does its most important work. Through their sides they deliver all the necessary substances into the cells and take back the redundant stuff through venulae.   The oxygen-free blood is then returned through the venous system into the heart and lungs. This interchange of substances and gases takes place between the cells within the tissue liquid. This liquid is similar to the composition of the prehistoric sea, the source of the first life forms. The cells of multi-cellular organisms are surrounded by this very substance which represents their natural environment. Its balance- homeostasis – is necessary for all the normal body functions.

However, not all redundant stuff is transported through the venous system. The intercellar space contains a special, in fact a sewer –like system, which is called lymphatic – it transports away everything which is not supposed to enter the blood. The lymphatic system begins with a closed lymphatic capillary containing liquid which we call the lymph. In contrast to blood, the lymph does not contain any blood cells, but it represents the main transportation route for the white cells, the most important fighters against infection and germs. The lymph also contains proteins, fats and other products of the metabolism process. 

The drainage-transportation function of the lymphatic system is closely related to its immunological function directly linked to immune system. The white cells are created in nodes (lymphatic organs), the rudiments for immune reactions in the organism. (image source: http://img.ulekarecdn.cz)

The lymph flows into lymphatic capillaries – lymphatic arteries. Within them we can find lymphatic nodes in which not only infections but also tumorous diseases are exterminated. The whole lymphatic system ends in the vicinity of the heart where it leads into the upper hollow vein through so called chest punch. With a bit of exaggeration we can say that the lymphatic nodes are to be found close to important transportation knots through which germs  from periphery (arms, legs, head) can get into the inner organs. The new scientific discipline of lymphology deals with the complex set of questions and answers connected with proper functioning and also malfunctioning of the lymphatic system.

 

 

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