Morphology of the intrarenal lymphatic system. Capsular and hilar communications

Am J Anat. 1977 Jul;149(3):333-51. doi: 10.1002/aja.1001490303.


Recent functional evidence has indicated that ureteric obstruction for three or more days in dogs causes a diversion of renal lymph from the hilar to the capsular system. The present study was concerned with the structural correlate of this functional evidence, having special reference to communications between the two systems. Within three days of ureteric occlusion the capsular lymphatic system became dilated. On histological examination two types of tributaries were found. One (termed a perforating lymphatic) served as a primary pathway for superficial cortical lymph from the subcapsular plexus, and penetrated the capsule either alone or in company with a small vein. The other (termed a communicating lymphatic) was closely associated with the occasional penetrating interlobular blood vessel which traversed the capsule to ramify in the perirenal tissue. Approximately 60% of the penetrating arteries in eight dog kidneys had associated communicating lymphatics. On the renal surface the perforating and communicating lymphatics formed the primary collecting vessels of the capsular system. Within the renal substance the communicating lymphatics were directly continuous with lymphatics which surrounded the interlobular blood vessels and which have been shown to drain into the hilar network. Thus the communicating lymphatics formed direct connections between the hilar and capsular systems. It was concluded that these communications, although dilated by hydronephrosis, existed under control conditions. Functionally they are probably of importance only under special circumstances when intrarenal lymph may be diverted from one to the other system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dogs
  • Kidney / anatomy & histology*
  • Lymphatic System / anatomy & histology*
  • Renal Artery / anatomy & histology
  • Renal Veins / anatomy & histology