The lymph nodes are major organs that perform many functions within the lymphatic system. Primarily, they remove debris and pathogens from lymph or tissue fluid. Some people describe the lymph nodes as lymph filters because of this primary function. The organs contain many cells that can internalize and kill pathogens that pass through. Additionally, the lymph nodes act as the site for adaptive immune responses involving special types of white blood cells.
The human body contains around 700 lymph nodes throughout the neck, groin, general intestinal tract, and other areas. The nodes have a bean or kidney-like shape and are generally one or two centimeters in length. A fibrous capsule surrounds each node. The lymph nodes themselves have two sections: the outer cortex and the inner medulla. The cortex surrounds the medulla except for the areas where vein-like lymphatic vessels connect. A supporting mesh called a reticulin sits in and supports the lymph nodes.
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