QS Study

Cisterna Chyli

It is a dilated lymph sac situated infront of L1 and L2 vertebrae. From its upper end, thoracic duct starts.  It is a usual anatomical structure seen as a saccular area of dilatation in the lymphatic channels that is positioned in the retrocrural space.

Length and Location: 5-7 cm. It extends 5-7 cm in the caudocephalad axis. It is located at the level of L1 and L2 vertebral bodies immediately right to the aorta behind the right crus of the diaphragm. It is a retroperitoneal structure.


(a) Anteriorly: Head of the pancreas. Right crus of the diaphragm.

(b) Posteriorly: Bodies of L1 and L2 vertebra with the disc.

(c) To the right:

  • IVC.
  • Right crus of the diaphragm.

To the left:

  • Abdominal aorta with the origin of coeliac and superior mesenteric arteries.
  • Left crus of the diaphragm.

Fig: Cisterna Chyli

Termination: The upper end of the cisterna chyli continues as the thoracic duct to empty into the left subclavian vein.

Function: The main function is that it receives and temporarily stores lymph, the clear body tissue fluid, as it traverses upwards the body.


  1. Intestinal lymph trunks.
  2. Right & left lower lumber lymph trunks.
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