Intestinal trunk

Last revised by Dr Daniel J Bell on 04 Mar 2021

The intestinal trunk (TA: truncus intestinalis) is an unpaired lymphatic trunk which drains lymph (and chyle) from those portions of the GI tract which receive their blood supply from the celiac and superior mesenteric arteries.

In the majority of individuals, the intestinal trunk drains into the left lumbar trunk. In a minority it instead flows directly into the cisterna chyli.

Radiographic features

MRI

The intestinal trunk can be visualized in some individuals on heavily T2-weighted MRI as a small caliber fluid-signal structure anterior to the cisterna chyli at the level at which it traverses the diaphragmatic crus. In a study of 125 patients specifically looking for this structure on MRCPs, it was confidently identified in 13% cases. However the authors were unable to map any of its tributaries or peripheral mesenteric course, which they put down to its tiny dimensions 2

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