Lymph nodes of the axilla

Contained in the fibro-fatty tissue of the axilla are many scattered lymph nodes. The average number is about 35, but there may be over 50. They are usually described as lying in the following groups:

Anterior or Pectoral group:

This group of axillary lymph nodes lies along the medial wall of the axilla with the lateral thoracic artery, at the lower border of pectoralis minor. They receive from the upper half of the trunk anteriorly and from the major part of the breast.

Posterior or subscapular group:

This group of axillary lymph nodes lies along the medial wall of the axilla in the posterior part, i.e. along the subscapular artery. They receive from the upper half of the trunk posteriorly, and from the axillary tail of the breast.

Lateral group:

This group of axillary lymph nodes lies along the medial side of the axillary vein. They receive from the upper limb.

Central group:

This group of axillary lymph nodes lies in the fat of the axillary and receiving lymph from the above groups.

Apical group:

This group of axillary lymph nodes lies in the apex of the axilla, receives from all the groups named above. The apical group drains by the subclavian lymph trunk through the apex of the axilla into supraclavicular nodes lying in the lower part of the posterior triangle of the neck. These drain into the thoracic duct or the right lymphatic trunk.