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Surgical Anatomy of the Retroperitoneal Spaces, Part III: Retroperitoneal Blood Vessels and Lymphatics

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In this article, we discuss the surgical anatomy of the blood vessels and the lymphatic vessels and lymph nodes found in the retroperitoneum. Retroperitoneal blood vessels include the aorta and all its branches—parietal and visceral—from the diaphragm to the pelvis, and the inferior vena cava and its tributaries. The retroperitoneal lymphatics form a very rich and extensive chain. As a general rule, lymphatics follow the arteries and named lymph nodes are found at the root of the arteries. Retroperitoneal nodes of the abdomen comprise the inferior diaphragmatic nodes and the lumbar nodes. The latter are classified as left lumbar (aortic), intermediate (interaorticovenous), and right lumbar (caval). These nodes surround the aorta and the inferior vena cava. Around the aorta lie the paraortic nodes, preaortic nodes (include celiac, superior mesenteric, inferior mesenteric nodes collecting lymph from the splanchna supplied by the homonymous arteries), and retroaortic nodes. Similarly, around the vena cava lie the paracaval, precaval, and retrocaval nodes. Pelvic nodes include the common iliac, external and internal iliac, obturator, and sacral nodes.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Centers for Surgical Anatomy and Technique, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Publication date: February 1, 2010

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  • The Southeastern Surgical Congress owns and publishes The American Surgeon monthly. It is the official journal of the Congress and the Southern California Chapter of the American College of Surgeons, which all members receive each month. The journal brings up to date clinical advances in surgical knowledge in a popular reference format. In addition to publishing papers presented at the annual meetings of the associated organizations, the journal publishes selected unsolicited manuscripts. If you have a manuscript you'd like to see published in The American Surgeon select "Information for Authors" from the Related Information options below. A Copyright Release Form must accompany all manuscripts submitted.
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