Anatomy and histology of Virchow's node

Anat Sci Int. 2005 Dec;80(4):193-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1447-073x.2005.00114.x.


A regional lymphatic system is composed of the first, second, third and even fourth or much more intercalated nodes along the lymptatic route from the periphery to the venous angle or the thoracic duct. The third or fourth node is usually termed the last-intercalated node or end node along the route. Similarly, one of the supraclavicular nodes is known to correspond to the end node along the thoracic duct. It is generally called 'Virchow's node', in which the famous 'Virchow's metastasis' of advanced gastric cancer occurs. The histology of this node has not been investigated, although region-specific differences in histology are evident in human lymph nodes. We found macroscopically the end node in five of 30 donated cadavers. Serial sections were prepared for these five nodes and sections stained with hematoxylin and eosin. Histological investigation revealed that, on the inferior or distal side of the end node, the thoracic duct divided into three to 10 collateral ducts and these ducts surrounded the node. The node communicated with the thoracic duct and its collaterals at multiple sites in two to three hilus-like portions, as well as along the subcapsular sinus. Thus, the end node was aligned parallel to the thoracic duct. Moreover, the superficial and deep cortex areas of the end node were fragmented to make an island-like arrangement, which may cause the short-cut intranodal shunt. Consequenly, the filtration function of most of Virchow's node seemed to be quite limited.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Cadaver
  • Female
  • Histological Techniques
  • Humans
  • Lymph Nodes / anatomy & histology*
  • Male
  • Thoracic Duct / anatomy & histology*