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Keywords:

  • lymphatic system;
  • indocyanine green fluorescent lymphography;
  • microinjection;
  • rabbits

ABSTRACT

Little is known about the anatomy of the lymphatic system in the rabbit with regard to relationships between the lymphatic vessel and lymph node. According to our previous studies in human cadavers and canines, the superficial lymphatic system could be divided into lymphatic territories. The aim of this study was to completely map the superficial lymphatic system in the rabbit. We used our microinjection technique and histological analysis for dissecting studies and recently developed indocyanine green (ICG) fluorescent lymphography for demonstrating dynamic lymph flow in living rabbits. Real-time ICG fluorescent lymphography was performed in two living New Zealand White rabbits, and direct dye microinjection of the lymphatic vessels was performed in eight dead rabbits. To assess the relationships between the vascular and lymphatic systems in rabbits, we performed radiocontrast injection into arteries in two dead rabbits prior to the lymphatic injection. The ICG fluorescent lymphography revealed eight lymphatic territories in the preauricular, submandibular, root of the lateral neck, axillary, lumbar, inguinal, root of the tail, and popliteal regions. We injected blue acrylic dye into every lymphatic vessel 0.1 mm in diameter or larger. We then dissected and chased the stained lymphatic vessels proximally until the vessels connected to the first tier lymph node. This procedure was repeated throughout the body until all the relationships between the lymphatic vessels and lymph nodes were defined. The lymphatic system of the rabbit could be defined as eight lymphatic territories, each with its own lymphatic vessels and lymph node. Anat Rec, 296:965–970, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.