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Anatomy of lymphatic drainage of the esophagus and lymph node metastasis of thoracic esophageal cancer

Authors Wang Y, Zhu L, Xia W, Wang F

Received 2 August 2018

Accepted for publication 16 October 2018

Published 26 November 2018 Volume 2018:10 Pages 6295—6303


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Rituraj Purohit

Yichun Wang,1 Liyang Zhu,1 Wanli Xia,2 Fan Wang1

1Department of Radiation Oncology, The First Affiliated Hospital of Anhui Medical University, Hefei 230022, Anhui, P.R. China; 2Department of Thoracic Surgery, The First Affiliated Hospital of Anhui Medical University, Hefei 230022, Anhui, P.R. China

Abstract: The lymphatic drainage of the inner layers (mucosa and submucosa) and the outer layers (muscularispropria and adventitia) of the thoracic esophagus is different. Longitudinal lymphatic vessels and long drainage territory in the submucosa and lamina propria should be the bases for bidirectional drainage and direct drainage to thoracic duct and extramural lymph nodes (LN). The submucosal vessels for direct extramural drainage are usually thick while lymphatic communication between the submucosa and intermuscular area is usually not clearly found, which does not facilitate transversal drainage to paraesophageal LN from submucosa. The right paratracheal lymphatic chain (PLC) is well developed while the left PLC is poorly developed. Direct drainage to the right recurrent laryngeal nerve LN and subcarinal LN from submucosa has been verified. Clinical data show that lymph node metastasis (LNM) is frequently present in the lower neck, upper mediastinum, and perigastric area, even for early-stage thoracic esophageal cancer (EC). The lymph node metastasis rate (LNMR) varies mainly according to the tumor location and depth of tumor invasion. However, there are some crucial LN for extramural relay which have a high LNMR, such as cervical paraesophageal LN, recurrent laryngeal nerve LN, subcarinal LN, LN along the left gastric artery, lesser curvature LN, and paracardial LN. Metastasis of thoracic paraesophageal LN seems to be a sign of more advanced EC. This review gives us a better understanding about the LNM and provides more information for treatments of thoracic EC.

esophageal carcinoma, lymphatic, lymph node metastasis,lymphadenectomy, radiotherapy

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