What is the Lymphatic System and what is its Function?
The lymphatic system is part of the circulatory system. It is a secondary pathway to the heart, parallel to the venous system. It moves fluids through the body and returns it to the circulatory system. The lymphatic circulation has a slow rhythm, as compared with the blood circulation. The lymphatic system is the body’s waste disposal. It clears away bacteria, cell debris, excess water, proteins and wastes from the connective tissue and returns it to the bloodstream for ultimate removal by the kidneys. The word “lymph” probably comes from the word “limpa”, meaning limpid, clear. Lymph is a fluid that originates in the connective tissue. Once it is in the lymph capillaries, the interstitial fluid is called lymph. The initial lymph capillaries, which originate in almost every tissue are very fine in the beginning. They slowly increase in size, into big lymphatic collectors called ducts and trunks. The function of the lymphatic system is to collect protein and molecules that are too large to return to the blood, and also pathogens. These proteins and molecules are transported and filtered through the lymph nodes, acting as purification center and then rejoin the blood near the junction of the subclavian and jugular veins. The purification of the lymphatic system is very important, because if anything blocks lymphatic return, blood protein and blood asmotic pressure falls below normal and fluid imbalance and death occurs within 24 to 48 hours.