Lymphatic System

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This chapter describes the lymphatic system, the formation of lymph and its functions in the body.


After completing this section, you should know:

  • the function of the lymphatic system
  • what the terms tissue fluid, lymph, lymphocyte and lymphatic mean
  • how lymph is formed and what is in it
  • the basic structure and function of a lymph node and the position of some important lymph nodes in the body
  • the route by which lymph circulates in the body and is returned to the blood system
  • the location and function of the spleen, thymus and lacteals


  • Fluid leaks out of the thin walled capillaries as they pass through the tissues. This is called tissue fluid.
  • Much of tissue fluid passes back into the capillaries. Some enters the blind-ended lymphatic capillaries that form a network between the cells of the tissues. This fluid is called lymph.
  • Lymph flows from the lymphatic capillaries to lymph vessels, passing through lymph nodes and along the thoracic duct to join the blood system.
  • Lymph nodes filter the lymph and produce lymphocytes.
  • Other organs of the lymphatic system are the spleen, thymus, bone marrow, and lymph nodules.

Learning Activities

Library of Resources

Presentations and Blackboard quizzes can be accessed by students of Otago Polytechnic.