The common trunk of all the lymphatic_vessels in the body, except those onthe right side of the head, the neck, the chest, the right upper limb, the right lung, the right side of the heart, and in the diaphragmatic surface of the heart.
The thoracic duct is the main lymphatic channel of the body that drains to the venous system from the whole of the body except the:
right thorax right arm right head and neck
It begins as a continuation of the cisterna chyli at the level of the T12 vertebra. It passes to the right of the aorta through the aortic hiatus. It then ascends to the right of the oesophagus with the azygous vein on its left. Posteriorly are the right posterior intercostal arteries.
At the level of the fifth thoracic vertebra the duct passes superiorly and to the left, posterior to the oesophagus. It then ascends on the left side of the oesophagus into the superior mediastinum. At this point, the aorta lies anteriorly and posteriorly is the anterior longitudinal ligament of the vertebral bodies.
Superiorly, within the neck the thoracic duct passes laterally to arch over the dome of the right pleura. It passes laterally and posterior to the carotid sheath and anterior to the vertebral arteries. During this final section:
it can divide into 2-3 branches it is joined by lymphatic trunks from: the left side of the head - the jugular trunk the left arm - the left subclavian trunk all the branches merge with the subclavian vein, the internal jugular vein or the left brachiocephalic vein near the intersection of all three On route, the thoracic duct receives lymphatic efferents from:
intercostal nodes anterolateral and posterior mediastinal nodes tracheobronchial nodes
The lymphatic duct is much shorter than the thoracic duct, only about 1/2 of an inch (1 centimeter) long. It receives lymph from right side of body above the liver and empties into right subclavian vein and internal jugular vein. Together with the thoracic, these ducts empty between 4 and 10 milliliters of lymph into the blood every minute.