Lymphatic drainage of the external ear

Wei Ren Pan, Cara Michelle Le Roux, Sidney M. Levy, Christopher A. Briggs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Background Lymphoscintigraphy reveals inconsistencies in our knowledge of the lymphatic anatomy of the external ear. Methods Fifteen external ears from 9 unembalmed human cadavers were studied. Six percent hydrogen peroxide was used to find the lymphatic vessels using a surgical microscope. They were injected with a radio-opaque mixture, dissected, photographed, and radiographed to demonstrate lymphatic vessels in the tissue. Final results were transferred to the computer for analysis. Results Four groups of lymph collecting vessels were found. The anterior branch, in all specimens, drained directly or indirectly (having merged with a vessel descending from the scalp) into the preauricular lymph nodes. The superior, middle, and inferior (lobule) branches drained to their multiple first tier lymph nodes. Conclusion An accurate lymphatic map of the external ear is described to upgrade our anatomic knowledge. It will be of benefit for the clinical management of malignancies in this region.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60-64
Number of pages5
JournalHead and Neck
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • drainage patterns
  • external ear
  • lymph node
  • lymphatic vessel
  • lymphoscintigraphy

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