The left para-aortic lymph node has the primary job of receiving and processing drainage from the thoracic duct and abdominal cavity. The para-aortic lymph nodes are located above the left renal vein near the aorta and lumbar vertebrae.
There is a left and right para-aortic lymph node, and they both work to process drainage from the upper thorax and abdominal cavity. These lymph nodes are referred to medically as PAN. They are often used in reference to lumbar lymph nodes and the immune system. The para-aortic lymph nodes are part of a complex lymphatic system in the abdominal region in front of the lumbar. Similar to other lymph nodes within the human body, the para-aortic lymph nodes may become swollen at times. Certain diseases may cause blockages that affect the other side (right or left para-aortic lymph node), cervix, peritoneal cavity, and in some case the inguinal nodes. In some situations, the para-aortic lymph nodes may be the site of metastasis resulting from cancer. Para-aortic lymph nodes can be removed or dissected as a form of cancer treatment, or to test the relation of the cancer to other sites in the body. Most of the research conducted on the para-aortic lymph nodes is in relation to cancer research.