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The distribution and drainage of omental lymphatics in the dog and cat.

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In a recent paper ('34) the writer establishet2 the presence
of omcntal lymphatics in tlie white r a t and in man. Thcl occurrciice of similar chaiiriels in other species has long heen an
open qnestion which has aroused great intercst. This investigation afforcls a dcfiiiitc aiiswer t o the problem iu so fat. as
the dog atid cat are coiicerned, and it demonstrates the p a t h
of lymph drainage in these animals from the omental vessels
t o the thoracic duct.
REV T I 3 W O F LI 'I'ER AT LlR 13:
Numerous investigators have studied the ommtum of the
dog. Robinson (189<5)discnssetl its macroscopic anatorny
and conchided that this organ is a great peritoiical protcctor
against infectious discilses. A fcw p a r s later I-7cger ('04)
iiitroilucd metallic powde1- into the peritoneal cavity and
studied its movement by ineaiis of tlie X - r i l j T . R e belicved
that granulrs of particnlatc matter entered the lymph vesscls
of the omcritum aud wem carried in the lymph stream to thc
left lobe of tlie livcr. Norris ('OX) a i d Koch ( '11) tlescrihed
numerous lymphatics in the dog omcntum. J3y means of
silver nitrate p i q a r a t i o n s , Pasparis ( '1 8 ) demonstrated
omeiital lymphatics along the 1a~g-eblood ~ e s s ~ lbut
s , bc failed
in all attempts to inject these channels with color masses.
In the same year Haurn ('18) sunimarizcvl the results of his
extensive studies of the lymphatic system in the dog. Nc
described orneiital lymphatics which accompany the blood
vessels iii the fat strips. By injecting these cliannels with
color masses lie demonstrated that the lymph vessels of the
omentum drain into nodes near the duodenum and spleen, and
from these collecting points the drainage is successively to
tlie portal nodes, tlic iritest,iiial lymph trunk, arid the cisterni
Recent iiirestigators are apparentlv uiia\var~ of H t i ~ r ~ i ' s
observations. Hamazalii ( '25) noted numerous lymph chaniiels in the milk spots of the dog omentum hut did not discuss
tlic coiinections between these ressels and those descrihed by
previous workers. In his omental studies of rarious laboratory animals, presLirnab1:- iiicliiding the dog, Poynter ( '28)
does ziot melition the presence of lymph chamiels. IIiggiiis
arid Rujii ('30) studied sections of dog omenta bnt d o not
record that lymph vessels were observed. This omission
inclicatcs that many present day anatomists doubt the psistence of omental lympliaties in the dog.
The presence of lymph chaririels in the cat omeiitum has
been geiierally denied siiice the publication of Ranvier's ohscrrations (1896). He reported that such cliaiiiiels oclcur onl>- in
tlic i i c ~ ~ b o rkjntten and they disappear by regression, leaving
no indication of their existence i n the adult. Shipley aiid
Cunniiigham ( '17) were uaable to ideiitify lymph cliaiiiiels
in the sections of cat omciita x4iicli thcy studied, aud IIamazaki ('2.5) stated that the lymph vessels in tlic milk spots a r e
riot clearly secii. Poyiiter ( '28) studied scctjoiis of omciita
from rarious l a h o r a t o ~ yanimals hut did not report the o ( m r rerice of omeiital lymphatics in the cat. In their recent study
of this animal, Higgiris and Baiii ('30) isolated the distal portion of the omentum in a subcntaiieous poucli. A few d a p
later they injected a graphite suspeiisjoii into tlie poiich, after
mlijch animals were Billed at snccessirc intervals and regions
of graphite infiltration noted. On the basis of these observations thep state that the routes of drainage from the distal
part of the omentum iiivolve the gastrolienal ligament, the
dorsal surface of the stomach, the lesser omentnm aiici caudate
lobe of the liver, the coronary ligament of the liver, thc lymph
vessels of the central tendon of the diaphragm, and the anterior mediastiiial lymph nodes. These investigators were
unable to demonstrate coricliisively the presence of omerital
lymplialics iii this animal. Tt appears, therefore, t h a t anat,omists in general agrce with Ranvier’s statement that omental
lymph vessels do not occnr in the adult cat.
a n artery, A ;
Fig. 1 Pliotoinicrogrsph of ij section of dog o m ~ n t ~ ~showing
veins, V ; the Inrgpr with valre, and numerous Iymphatjc chaniicls, 1,. Three
nerves are shown to t h e left of the arterial wall. X G O .
I n view of the lack of agreeincut concerning the existence of
lymphatics in the omexitum of tlic dog, serial sections from cliffercnt parts of this organ were preparcd mid studied. In
every preparation numerous lymph chaiiriels were easilJ- identified in the fat strips which accompany the blood vessels
(fig. 1). These lymphatics consist of a n anastomosiiw nlexns
of thiii uvilled vessels surrounding thc artery, aiid one or more
solitary channels, located in the pxivascular f a t some distance
from the blood vessels. The chaiiriels comprising the arterial
plexus lie adjacent t o tlie adventitia of the arterial wall and
a r e often much compressed. The outlj-ing or solitary vessels
a r e usually larger in size and appear almost circnlar in traiisverse section. All omental lymphatics are lined wj t h a distinct
endothelium and have numerous valves.
9 more complete picture of the omental lymph vcssels in
the dog was obtained by injecting them with filtered India
ink. This mas accomplished by forcing the point of a sinall
(27 gauge) hypodermic needle through the perivaseular fat
until it was quite closc to the arterial wall and almost parallel with it. A slight amount of pressure was theii applied to
the plunger of the syringe. 111 this manner the arterial lymphatic plexus was often puiicturrd and filled with the injection
fluid. It was observed that the ink iiever exteiidecl in the
plexus for a distance of more thaii 1 o r 2 em.; instead,
it passed through conneetirig branches to tlie solitary channels
(fig. 2 a). The numher and yositioii of these chariiicls a1.e
variable. A single one, lying near one margin of the pcrivascular f a t is a frequent finding, but it may cross the blood
vessels from one side t o the other a i d bc ac.companied by oiie
or more lymph vessels of the same type (fig. 2 K ) . Thcse
continiie as tortuous chaiiricls through the perirascular
f a t to the proximal attachmeiits of the omeiitum. Along the
course of saeh chaiinels numerous ink-fillcd spurs of tributaries may he observed (fig. 2 (”). Further extension of the
iiijection fluid into these tributaries was barred by their most
proximal n l v e s .
It was not possible to fill a large number of lymph c h a n n ~ l s
in aiiy one omentum, f o r the irik smudge resulting from
Fig. 2 Photomit-rographu of purlions of dog orrrcnta in which the lpniph
c.hannels are injected with India ink. X 8. A , a short plcxus of lymph vessels
surrounds the artcr? and empties by communicating branches into n more oiitlyiiig
channel. Note the beaded appearance of the latter, indicating the position of
valx es. 13, scveral 1) rriph channels accompanying the blood vcsucls. c!, a dense
lyniphatir plems ol)r4c.urcs the blood \ eswls. O u t l ~ i n gchaimcls, one with A: spur,
X, also shown.
iiumerons attempts soon clonclecl the entire organ and made
further efforts impractical. Best rcsirlts were obtained on
fresh material1, for in such omenta the perivascnlar fat i s
relatively traiisparcnt and tlie ink-filled chaiinels can easily
he identified and followed. By meaiis of repeated iiijcctions
in all regions, the draiiiage paths of the lpmphntics in the dog
omentum were established (fig. 3 ) . Almost all of the lymph
vessels of the veiitral leaf drain into traiisrerse coiinecting
cliannel s wliicli lie near the gastroepipluic blood vessels.
These lymphatics empty their contents into the duodenal
Iymph node. ‘l’he lymph from a relatively sniall area a t the
left side of the ventral leaf drains into collecting channels
which ,zccompan;r- the left gastroepiploic vein to lymyli nodes
near the spleen. The spleiiic iiodcs also drain the left onethird of tlic dorsal leaf of the omeritum, while lymph from the
remainder of this leaf enters the cluodenal Ipmph node clirectly
or throngh efferent channels from a minute omental node
xvhich lies 2 o r 3 cm. distal to tlie duodei~aInode and is frequently absent. It may be noted that these observations a r e
not entirely in accord with the statements b;r- Baum (’18) that
the duodeiial node drains the right half and the spleiiic nodes
the left half of the ventral leaf of the omentum.
The further course of the lymph stream from the duodenal
and splenic nodes was also determined by injection. Effereiit
chaniiels from the duodenal nodes empty into nodes located oii
either side of the portal vein. lnli injected into these portal
nodes drained into the iiitestiiial lymphatic trunk, and then
into the cistcrni chyli. Efferent vessels froin the splenic
nodes pass pither t o the portal iiodcs or directly to the iiitestinal trunk. There mas n o indication i n a117 of these experiments that the paths of omental drainage in the dog involve
the lymph vessels of the diaphragm.
“rhe writer wishes t o thank Iloctoi Higgins 2nd Mr. Helfrirh, of thc P h a r macology Lkpartrnent, Unirersitp of 711iuois, College of Medicine, for their cooperation in securing material for this investigation.
M7he21 attention was directed to serial swtions of omerita
from adult cats, it was rioted that lymph cliaiincls are it conbtant finding. This observation deserves emphasis iii view
of the statements by Railvier (1896) ant3 Rhjplcy and Cunning-
Fig. 3 Drawing d i o n i n g the drainage paths of the lymphstirs i n t h e ventral
leaf of the dog omentum. The black spnt near the duodenal flexure is t h e duodenal lymph node. The asterisk indicates the point at which t h e lymph vessels
draining the left portion of this omental ltaf pass rlorsnllj, in company with
the gastroepiploie vein, t o rmptg into the splcniq lympli iiodes. Four-ninths
natural size.
ham ( '17) that such vessels are not present in the omenturn of
the adult cat. But the existence of omental lymphatics in
this aiiimal caiinot be doubted, for they may be ohsei*ved in
preparations from all parts of this organ. The omental blood
vessels in tlie cat are much smaller than in the dog, and as
2, conseqnericc the lymph vessels wliicli accompanj- them are
neither as large n o r as thick walled as those described in the
larger animal, but they have a distiiict eiidothclial lining and
d w s . Central lymph c~lianiiels arc locaatecl betm--ren the Mood vessels in the peri~asculartissue (fig. 4), but
rarely form i; plexns aroirid the artery. 0ccasioiidl~-ail outlying chaunel is observed near the blood ressels (fig. 4 A ) .
liik injections accomplidietl with clifEculty irr this aiiimal, sEiow
that the central channels pass iii a relatively straight course
I-)etween the blood vessels (fig. 5, A, €3 and ('). The ahserice
of ~itimeroi~s
anastomosis between these cliaiinels is a charI-ZCt eristic f ca t 11 re iii tlie cat. Commu iii catiiig braiiche s coziiiw t
such central lymphatics wit11 the small solitary chniiiiclx
which cai=ry12ic lympli to the collcxtiiig iiodes, h i t which arr
iiot niiinerous in any specific locality and do not sliow as freqiieiit branchiiig as was obsei.rec1 in the dog, tlioug!.h they have
the typical segmented form (fig. 5). Ti1 addition to the normal
inflation of the proximal portions of these vessels, it j s not
unusual to find tliem filled with iiik for a short distance distal
to the point of injection. This indicates that even the slight
hack pressure which is employed is sufficient to overcome the
aclioii of tlie i i e a i ~ ~valves.
The paths of lymph drainage in the cat are similar to those
in the dog, although the ~iiimberarid position of the lymph
nodes often s h o ~ 7considerable variation. A siiigle iiode is
located along the median sidtl of the duodennm at the level of
its superior flexure, and ventral to the pancreas. hi m e of
the eighteen animals examined a second node was obscrved
at the same level, but 011 the lateral side of the duodenum.
The splenic nodes consist of oiie or more small glands located
at the distal border of the liilus of the spleen, arid a single
much larger gland wliicli lies near the point of union of the
gastric and splenic veins. The duodenal and splenic nodes
are tlic primary collecting centers of the lyrripli stream from
the omentum, and their eff erent channels lead dircctly into
the intestinal lymph truiik or into the nodes located near the
portal vein. X left portal node was present in every animal
examined, and in two cases a smaller right portal node was
observed. When India ink is injected into the portal nodes,
it passes rapidly into the intestinal lymph trunk and cisterni chpli and then fills the entire thoracic duct. There was
no evidcricc in these experiments that the lymph from omental
vessels drains into the thoracic duct by paths othcr than those
just outlined. Higgins and Rain ( '30) described transference
of particulate matter from the greater. omcntiim of cats by
paths which follow the dorsal surface of the stomach, the
lesser omenturn arid the diaphragm. It must be emphasized
that that they did not observe definite lymph channels in
the greater and lesser omcnta iii which the particulate matter
was being transferred, and it is therefore apparent that the
paths described by them a r e riot those concerned with omental
lymph drainage.
I n all sections examincd in this study, omental nerves were
a coristant finding. The cxistence of such nerves lias been
doubted by many iiirestigators, but there is no question that
they occur generally for they h a w been observed recently
also in the hiimaii omentuni by the writer ('34).
Fig. 5 Photomicrographs of portions n f (.at oincnta in which the lymph vessels
are injcctcd with India ink. X 16. A , B, anti C, ecntral lymph channrls accompany the blood ressels and draiii into outlying colleeting channels. -4n ink filled
valre siiius is seeii iicar the bifurcation of thc artery iii C . D, an outlFiiig
lymph rhanncl. The sharp angle near its center iiidicatea the p e s r n c e of a valve
at the junction of a trihutary.
1 . Omciital lymphatic clianiiels accompany tlie blood T-cssels
in all parts of this organ in the adnlt dog arid cat. These
lymphatics consist of central cliaiiiiels which lie near the
blood vessels aiid communicate at intervals with more solitary channels which lie peripherally in the perivascular fat.
2. Omental lymph drainage is by way of such outlying
chaiinels into the duodenal and spleiiic lymph glands. Lymph
from these ziodcs passes directly or indirectly into the intestinal lymph t ruiik and cisteriii chyli.
3 . There is no evidence that t41r lymphatic cliannels of the
diaphragm play any part in omental lymph drainage in tlie
dog arid cat.
BAUN,11. 1918 J)as T~gmphgefasxspstcrndes Hundes. Herlin.
CASPARIS, H. R. 1918 LFinphatics of the ontcnturn. Anat. Rcc., pol. 15, pp.
v. 19% Comparative studies on the milk spotq, ‘ Tachcx laiteuscs,’
of Tnrious animals. Folia Anat. Jap., Bd. 3, 8. 243-265.
HEGEK,1’. 1904 La bnlapage de la c.arit@p6riton6ale par I’6piploou. Arch.
internat. de plipsiiul., T. 1, pp. 26-34.
HIGGIh-S, (+. M., AND c‘. (;RANT
RAIN 1930 The absorption and trarisference
of particulate matter 11.v t h c grcnt onientuni. Surg., Gyncc. and Dhst.,
tol. 50, pp. 851-860.
IIOCH,J . 1911 iyber das Verhalten dcs grossen Netzes (Omeiilum inajus) b r i
der pcritonealei> und intcstinalen Infektion. Med. Klin., Hd. 7 , S .
h e r die Bedeutung und Titigkeit des grossen Netzes bri der peritonealen lnfrktion. Ztschr. f . IIyg. 11. Infetionskrankh., Bd. 69, S.
NORRIS,C. C. 1908 The onientmn ; its anatomy, his to log^, aiid pliysiolog~ in
health ant1 diwase. TJniv. Pelin. Med. Bull., vol. 21, pp. 119-12i.
POYSTEX,(‘. W . M. 1928 Concerning the great omentum. Mrd. C‘lin. N.
America, vol, 13, pp. 499-503.
RANVIER,L. 1896 Aberration et regression dcs l ~ m p h a t i q u e sen vole de dCveloppeuient. Cpt. rend. Aead. Se. Paris, T. 12, pp. 578-580.
B. 1895 Tlic peritoneum of t,he dog. Am. Prart. and S e w s , rol. 20,
pp. 368-376.
SIIIPLEP,P. G., AND R. 8. CENXINGHAX 1917 The histolog?. of blood and
12 m p h t i c rpssels during the pxssagc of forcigii fluids through their
wal1.i. 11. Studies on absorlhion from serous cavities. Anat. Rea.
vol. 11, pp. 181-190.
RI~CER, PARKEH, 1934 On the itiorphology of the omrntum, with especial
reference to its Ijmphatics. Am. J . Anat., rol. 54, pp. 203-228.
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drainage, omental, distributions, cat, lymphatic, dog
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