The right lymphatic duct is one of the vessels in the lymphatic system of the body. It is formed by the joining of the jugular lymphatic vessel with the vessels of the lymph nodes on the right side of the body. This duct can be found in the neck, and is also known as the right thoracic duct.
All of the lymph ducts are used to transport lymph, a liquid that is similar in many respects to the plasma portion of blood. It contains white blood cells, particularly the type known as lymphocytes, which are a crucial part of the immune system.
The opening to the right lymphatic duct is protected by two valves that are responsible for preventing blood from the veins to flow into the duct. These are called semilunar valves and are located in the arteries that leave the heart during blood circulation.
This duct works to drain lymph from various areas of the body, particularly the upper right portion of the trunk, also referred to the right thoracic cavity, and the right arm. It also drains lymph from the head and neck on the right side of the body. In some people, lymph is drained from the bottom of the left lung by the right lymphatic duct as well.
The primary role of the lymphatic system is to help the immune system by destroying pathogens, like harmful bacteria, and to help filter waste so that the lymph can be returned safely to the circulatory system. Another job of the system is to remove excess fluid and other waste materials from the cells and tissues of the body. It also works to deliver oxygen, hormones, and nutrients to the cells. A properly working immune system is vitally important to health and survival.
There are several diseases that can affect the proper functioning of the lymphatic system, including the right lymphatic duct. For this reason, any suspected infection or swelling of the lymph glands should be reported to a medical professional immediately for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Nicolas Steno is credited with the discovery of this duct. Steno is often considered to be the father of geology, but his notable work in the field of anatomy is also something for which he is also remembered.