The lymphatic system
Due to the complexity of the lymphatic system and its closed association with the blood circulation system, damage to any lymphatic components can lead to the development of Lymphedema. Since there might be a delay of several years from a causative event to the appearance of Lymphedema, to determine the correct diagnosis is often difficult.
The three main functions
The lymphatic system transports a watery, clear fluid full of lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are infection-fighting cells. The colourless fluid is known as lymph.
Draining excess fluid
After blood has circulated through tissues it leaves fluids and proteins behind; these are waste products. The excess fluid is drained through capillaries and into the lymphatic system where it is filtered and the clean fluid returned to the blood.
Lipid (fat) absorption
The lymphatic system also absorbs lipids from the intestine and transports them to the blood.