Jugular trunk

Last revised by Daniel J Bell on 18 Apr 2022

The jugular trunks (TA: truncus jugularis) are small short paired lymphatic trunks, each one draining one side of the head and neck, forming an important terminal part of the lymphatic system 1-3.

Gross anatomy

  • the left and right jugular trunks are found in the root of the neck
  • the organs of the head and neck (e.g. thyroid, salivary glands, etc.) drain into local nodes, which eventually drain into the deep cervical nodes
  • the efferent lymphatics of the superior deep cervical nodes pass either into the inferior deep cervical nodes, or bypass them to form the nascent jugular trunk which then also drains the efferent lymphatics from the inferior nodal group
  • the trunks run parallel to the inferior internal jugular vein

Variant anatomy

The jugular trunks, like other parts of the lymphatic system show a wide spectrum of anatomic variance, and may also drain directly into the central major veins instead of the lymphatic ducts, including the brachiocephalic, subclavian and internal jugular veins (often at the venous angle).

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