The surgical anatomy of the lymphatic system of the pancreas

Cesmebasi, A., Malefant, J., Patel, S.D., Du Plessis, M., Renna, S., Tubbs, R.S., Loukas, M., 2015b. The surgical anatomy of the lymphatic system of the pancreas. Clin Anat 28, 527–537. doi:10.1002/ca.22461.


The lymphatic system of the pancreas is a complex, intricate network of lymphatic vessels and nodes responsible for the drainage of the head, neck, body, and tail of the pancreas. Its anatomical divisions and embryological development have been well described in the literature with emphasis on its clinical relevance in regards to pancreatic pathologies. A thorough knowledge and understanding of the lymphatic system surrounding the pancreas is critical for physicians in providing diagnostic and treatment strategies for patients with pancreatic cancer and pancreatitis. Pancreatic cancer has an extremely poor prognosis and is a notable cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Although a surgeon may try to predict the routes for metastasis for pancreatic cancer, the complexity of this system presents difficulty due to variable drainage patterns. Pancreatitis also presents as another severe disease which has been shown to have an association with the lymphatics. The aim of this article is to review the literature on the lymphatics of the pancreas, pancreatic pathologies, and the available imaging methodologies used to study the pancreatic lymphatics.