The lymphatic drainage of head and neck tissue is divided into superficial and deep systems and usually, but not always, the passage of lymph is lateralized and sequential and follows a predefined route from superficial to deep. The superficial nodal system, which drains the superficial tissues, consists of two circles of nodes, one in the head and the other in the neck. In the head, the nodes are situated around the skull base and are known as the occipital, postauricular, parotid or preauricular and then buccal or facial nodes. They are in continuity with the superficial nodes in the upper neck consisting of the superficial cervical, submandibular, and submental nodes, along with the anterior cervical nodes. These latter nodes are situated along the external jugular vein and the anterior jugular veins, respectively. This superficial system receives drainage from the skin and underlying tissues of the scalp, eyelids and face, along with Waldeyer's internal ring (lymphatic oropharyngeal tissue consisting of the pharyngeal, tubal, and lingual tonsils), nasal sinuses, and oral cavity.
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