Anatomy of the subcutaneous lymph vascular network of the human leg in relation to the great saphenous vein.
Anat Rec (Hoboken). 2009
The anatomical relationship between lymphatic collectors and veins is of clinical importance for preventing lymphedema secondary to lymphatic collector injury during surgical procedures. To identify areas at risk during surgical interventions, we performed an anatomical study of human legs. The lymphatic collectors of 42 legs of human cadavers were injected with Berlin Blue solution or contrast medium. After fixation, the collectors were dissected and their distances from the great saphenous vein were determined. We found that the lymphatic collectors on the dorsum of the foot ran in close parallel with the corium, whereas in the groin a greater number of lymphatic collectors clustered around the great saphenous vein. The ventromedial bundle that drains into the superficial inguinal nodes included 5-20 lymphatic collectors. The average width of the ventromedial bundle varied between 116 mm at the middle of the lower leg and 32 mm at the groin. Our study cannot confirm the previous observation of a bottleneck of the ventromedial bundle occurring at the knee, but does support the finding of an elongated bottleneck at the thigh and groin draining into the superficial inguinal lymph nodes. In addition, the idea of one sentinel lymph node for a specific region of the leg is not supported by these data. These observations will help surgeons to plan incisions and dissections with respect to lymphatic collectors, thereby minimizing damage to them and reducing complications resulting from unnecessary lymphatic excisions. Anat Rec, 2009.PubMed