The Human Body

Lymphatic Capillaries

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These vessels are found in all body tissues except the central nervous system, which has a circulatory system known as the cerebrospinal system. The lymphatic capillaries run together to form larger ducts that intertwine about the arteries and veins. The lymph in these larger ducts, which are similar to thin, dilated veins, is moved along by the muscular movements of the body as a whole; it is prevented from moving back through the ducts by valves located along them at intervals. The ducts from the lower limbs and abdomen come together at the dorsal left side of the body to form a channel, known as the cisterna chyli, that gives rise to the chief lymphatic vessel of the body, the thoracic duct. This vessel receives lymph from the left side of the thorax, the left arm, and the left side of the head and neck; it empties into the junction of the left jugular and left subclavian veins. Another, smaller vessel, known as the right lymphatic duct, receives lymph from the right side of the thorax, the right arm, and the right side of the head and neck and empties its contents into the right subclavian vein.