What Is The Function of The Lymphatic System
By: Rita Louise
All body tissues live in a liquid environment, both in the cells and surrounding them. During cellular metabolism, waste products, including carbon dioxide and other substances are routed back through the blood stream to be eliminated. In addition to the elimination provided for by the circulatory system, a second pathway for the removal of tissue fluids from the body is achieved though the lymphatic or lymph system.
The function of the lymph system is to remove excess tissue fluids that do not return through the circulatory system. In addition, the lymph system is responsible for absorbing protein form this fluid and returning it to the blood.
Like the circulatory system, the lymphatic system is made up of a series of capillaries and lymphatic vessels. Unlike the circulatory system, the lymph system does not have a heart to propel lymph (tissue fluids that have entered the lymphatic system) through the system. The movement of lymph is based upon either the volume of fluid within the lymph vessel or by mechanical means, i.e. through movement of the skeletal muscles, where the muscles compress the lymphatic vessels and drive the lymph forward.
Throughout the lymph system, can be found a series of lymph nodes, whose function it is to filter the lymph, trapping and destroying bacteria and other foreign particles. Lymph nodes can be found throughout the body, but tend to be grouped together. Major groupings of lymph nodes can be found in the neck (cervical nodes), in the armpits (axillary nodes), near the trachea and bronchial tubes (tracheobronchial nodes), in and around the intestines (mesenteric nodes) and in the groin area (Inguinal nodes).
The thymus gland is the site in which T-lymphocytes develop and mature before birth and is most active prior to puberty. The thymus secretes the hormone thymosin, which promotes the growth of lymphocytes and lymphoid tissue throughout the body.
The tonsils, once thought of as a useless organ, are actually masses of lymphoid tissue that are designed to filter tissue fluids.
The spleen is an organ that contains lymphoid tissue and is designed to filter blood. It is located in the upper left quadrant of the abdominal cavity and is protected by the ribs. One function of the spleen is to filter out old red blood cells. The spleen also harbors phagocytes, which engulf bacteria and other foreign particles. The spleen also serves as a reservoir of blood in cases of emergency.
Although the function of the vermiform appendix is unknown, the appendix is rich in lymph tissues. The appendix is located at the end of the cecum, which is part of the large intestine.
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