It collects most of the lymph in the body (except that from the right arm and the right side of the chest, neck and head, which is collected by the right lymphatic duct) and drains into the systemic (blood) circulation at the left subclavian vein.
It extends vertically in the chest and curves posteriorly to the left carotid artery and left internal jugular vein at the C7 vertebral level to empty into the junction of the left subclavian vein and left jugular vein, below the clavicle, near the shoulders.
There are also two valves at the junction of the duct with the left subclavian vein, to prevent the flow of venous blood into the duct.
The first sign of a malignancy (especially an intraabdominal one) may be an enlarged Virchow's node, a lymph node in the left supraclavicular area, in the vicinity where the thoracic duct empties into the left subclavian vein.
Cervical Thoracic Duct Cyst: Importance of Preoperative Suspicion for Appropriate Management of Left-Sided Neck Mass
Dec 01, 2012; Cervical thoracic duct cysts occur infrequently but are an important consideration when evaluating cystic supraclavicular masses....