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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.
Additional recommended knowledge
In adults, the thoracic duct is typically 38-45cm in length and an average diameter of about 5mm. It usually starts from the level of the second lumbar vertebra and extends to the root of the neck.
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.
Volume, mechanism, and direction of flow
In adults, the thoracic duct transports up to 4 L of lymph per day.
The lymph transport in the thoracic duct is mainly caused by the action of breathing, aided by the duct's smooth muscle and by internal valves which prevent the lymph from flowing back down again.
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.
It is also known under various other names including the alimentary duct, chyliferous duct, duct of Pecquet, the left lymphatic duct and Van Hoorne's canal. 
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Thoracic_duct". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|