The Thoracic duct is the major lymphatic vessel, which starts near the lower part of the spine. It collects lymph from the lower portion of the body. It runs through the body and empties into the blood through the large vein near the left side of the neck. The right lymphatic duct collects lymph from the right side of the neck, chest and arm, and empties into a large vein on the right side of the neck. Lymph is composed of water, protein, salts, glucose, urea, lymphocytes and other substances. Thoracic duct, the left lymphatic duct is a crucial part of the lymphatic system. It is the largest lymphatic vessel in the body. Thoracic duct also has other names counting the alimentary duct, chyliferous duct, the left lymphatic duct and Van Hoorne's canal. Thoracic duct collects most of the lymph in the body apart from that from the right arm and the right side of the chest, neck and head, and lower left part of the lung, which is collected by the right lymphatic duct, and uses up into the blood circulation.
The lymphatic system is a system which collects and returns the intestinal fluids. As with the blood network, the lymph vessels form a system all through the body, contrast to the blood, in which the lymph system will be in one direction draining lymph from the tissue and returning it to the blood. This system is a network of capillaries and tubes called “lympahtics”. These lymphatics use up lymph from all over the body. The lymphatic system protects the body against disease by producing lymphocytes. It also absorbs lipids (fats) from the intestines and transports them to the blood. Lymphatics are found in every part of the body apart from the central nervous system. The major components of the lymphatic system are bone marrow, lymph nodes, spleen, and the thymus gland.
The thoracic duct is a tubular structure that is 2 to 3 mm in diameter, valve, and paper-thin. It is the main channel of the lymphatic system. Along the primary lymphatics, by flowing gradually, the lymph drains into increasingly bigger lymphatic vessels which in due course join as the Thoracic Duct and use up their contents into the veins in the thorax. In a nutshell, the lymphatic system functions as a slow flowing, low pressure drainage system that collects a minute segment of the interstitial fluid from all over the body and gives back it to the bloodstream. The Thoracic Duct occurs forward as an enlarged sac. This sac like lymphatic mass collects lymph from lower limbs of the body in addition to the digestive system. Different from the circulatory systems, the lymphatic system needs any central "heart" like organ to pump lymph all the way through the lymph vessel. As an alternative, the lymphatic systems rely on muscular movement, breathing, and simple gravity to move lymph fluid all through the body. Nevertheless, the thoracic Duct does have smooth muscle (the same muscle type that is present in the lower digestive system and the arterial system) for helping the lymph flow. As a consequence, recurrent movement is vital for humans to appropriately move the lymph and avoid lymph fluid accumulation in some parts of the body.
Thoracic duct drainage is very important to the proper function of the body. If there is any problem in this the drainage process, several health troubles can occur, as the drainage of lymph through the duct assist in cleaning the body cells. If this process is not happening correctly, the possibility for the collection of lymph at the point of barrier can lead to the formation of malignancies at different spots all through the upper left portion of the body or the area underneath the diaphragm. A person may experience a wide range of symptoms, counting fevers, nausea, or difficulty breathing, depending on the nature of the enlargement.
Usually, damage to the thoracic duct may occur because of the injury continued in an accident or as a side-effect of a surgical procedure that took place in the thoracic duct. In both the cases, one or more sections of the duct can disintegrate or become congested, efficiently ending the process of drainage. Once, the thoracic duct is blocked or damaged a great deal of lymph can rapidly build up leading to a condition is called “chylothorax”. The blockage can create supplementary health troubles, if not cured in proper timing.
A best way to treat blockage of the thoracic duct is through a treatment known as thoracic duct “ligation”. Number of physicians advocate that this process be used if the thoracic duct does not act in response to other treatments. If ligation is done in right timing, several health troubles associated with the blockage can be minimized.