Snobby term for what most people call "glands", i.e. "I have a cold and my glands are swollen." The lymph nodes produce lymph, which is released into the bloodstream and does immune-function things. There are lymph nodes in the neck, just behind the ears, and in the armpits. There are also vessels that carry lymph only, no blood.

audited 7/24/00 by ModernAngel

Lymph nodes are merely sentinels for the lymph which flows through our body via the lymphatic system.

Lymph itself is all the blood plasma that has seeped out of our blood vessels into our tissues, then drained away via lymphatic vessels. Lymph also contains fats that have been digested through our gut after a nice fat laden meal.

Lymph nodes sample the lymph-sludge that flows past, checking to make sure bad things are not also flowing through like cancer cells, bugs and the like.

The cells that do this sampling are called lymphocytes. (-cyte meaning "cell").

With regards to medicine and the human anatomy, lymph nodes are small lumps that lie along lymph vessels in the lymphatic system.

Their function is to house cells from the immune system which become activated when they detect pathogens flowing past them in the lymph. This is why your "glands" (nodes) become swollen when you have an infection.

Lymph nodes are also important in surgery. Cancer usually spreads via the lymphatic system so involvement of the lymph nodes draining a particular spot indicates that the cancer has already spread past that point. The draining lymph nodes are often removed concurrently when doing surgical resections of tumours.

Surgically removing lymph nodes can have the unfortunate effect of causing lymphoedema on the affected side because the flow of lymph has been disrupted. Women who have had a malignant breast lump removed and also had axillary node resection on the same side sometimes have swollen arms because of this.

Also called a lymph gland, this is a round or oval mass of lymphatic tissue found on a lymphatic vessel within the lymphatic system. These masses filter lymphatic fluid, which is collected and transported by the lymphatic system from around the tissues to the blood circulatory system.

Germinal centers are areas within lymph nodes where B lymphocytes rapidly divide.

From the BioTech Dictionary at For further information see the BioTech homenode.

Lymph node. (Anat.)

A lymphatic gland.


© Webster 1913

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