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The Cisterna Chyli and its Role in the Lymphatic System August 07, 2023 Alternate Text

In the human body, the lymphatic system plays a crucial role in fluid balance, immune defense, and nutrient transport. The cisterna chyli, a key structure in the lymphatic system, acts as a vital reservoir that collects and stores lymph, while also facilitating the drainage of various regions in the lower body.


We will explore the function, location, and connection of the cisterna chyli to essential organs, as well as its indirect relationship with the liver.


Main functions of the Cisterna Chyli are:

  •   Fluid Balance: The cisterna chyli aids in maintaining fluid balance within the body. It collects excess interstitial fluid, which includes water, fats, proteins, and immune cells, that seeps out from blood vessels into tissues.
  • Filtration: As lymphatic fluid enters the cisterna chyli, it undergoes filtration to remove foreign substances, pathogens, and cellular debris. This process helps to purify the lymph and support immune functions.
  • Transport of Fats and Immune Cells: The cisterna chyli is responsible for transporting fats absorbed from the digestive system, known as chyle, as well as immune cells throughout the body. This transportation is vital for proper nutrient distribution and immune responses.

Location of the Cisterna Chyli:

The cisterna chyli is strategically positioned within the abdominal and pelvic region of the body. Specifically, it can be found in front of the lumbar spine and behind two major blood vessels:

  • Aorta: The cisterna chyli lies posterior to the aorta, the main artery that carries oxygenated blood from the heart to the rest of the body.
  • Inferior Vena Cava: Positioned posterior to the inferior vena cava, the cisterna chyli is in close proximity to this major vein responsible for transporting deoxygenated blood from the lower body to the heart.

Connection to Vital Organs:

The cisterna chyli receives lymphatic drainage from several crucial areas in the body through lymphatic vessels. These areas include:

  • Intestines: Lymph from the intestines, especially from the small intestine and part of the large intestine, drains into the cisterna chyli. This lymph, known as chyle, contains absorbed fats and fat-soluble vitamins.
  • Lower Limbs: Lymph from the lower limbs is transported via lymphatic vessels to the cisterna chyli. It contains fluid and waste products from the tissues in the lower body.
  • Pelvis and Abdomen: Lymph from various structures in the pelvic and abdominal regions also drains into the cisterna chyli, further contributing to fluid and waste removal.

The Indirect Relationship with the Liver:

Although the cisterna chyli and the liver are not directly connected anatomically, they both play vital roles in their respective systems, and their functions are interconnected through the circulation of fluids and substances in the body.


The liver, as a key component of the digestive system, metabolizes carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. This includes processing fats and producing bile, which aids in fat digestion and absorption in the small intestine.


The liver's influence on nutrient processing and detoxification indirectly impacts the composition of lymph within the cisterna chyli. As lymphatic fluid circulates through the body, it interacts with nutrients and waste products processed by the liver, ultimately contributing to the overall health and function of the lymphatic system.



The cisterna chyli is a crucial structure in the lymphatic system, responsible for maintaining fluid balance, filtering foreign substances, and transporting fats and immune cells throughout the body. Its location and connections to vital organs make it an essential player in maintaining tissue fluid balance and immune function.


While not directly connected, the cisterna chyli's relationship with the liver underscores the interconnected nature of the body's systems, highlighting the importance of holistic health for overall well-being.

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