Popliteal Lymph Nodes
The popliteal lymph nodes, small in size and some six or seven in number, are embedded in the fat contained in the popliteal fossa, the shallow hollow on the posterior leg. One lies immediately beneath the popliteal fascia, near the terminal part of the small saphenous vein which are the blood vessel near the surface of the posterior knee responsible for returning deoxygenated blood back towards the heart, and drains the region from which this vein derives its tributaries. These nodes aid in maintaining fluid homeostasis or balance by draining the surrounding areas of extra fluid to prevent a buildup. Another is between the popliteal artery and the posterior surface of the knee-joint. It receives the lymphatic vessels from the knee-joint, together with those that accompany the genicular arteries. The others lie at the sides of the popliteal vessels, and receive, as efferents, the trunks that accompany the anterior and posterior tibial vessels. The efferents of the popliteal glands pass almost entirely alongside the femoral vessels to the deep inguinal glands, but a few may accompany the great saphenous vein, and end in the glands of the superficial subinguinal group. Popliteal lymph nodes consist of lymphatic tissues enclosed by a fibrous capsule. They contain scavenging white blood cells that strain out potentially harmful pathogens and microorganisms from lymph fluid that has drained from tissues in the legs and feet. Swollen popliteal lymph nodes are often a sign of disease or infection. The use of an antibiotic may be necessary to aid the body in severe cases. In the rare instances when the popliteal lymph nodes are enlarged or inflamed due to cancer, correct care of the removal of the cancerous cells help relieve the discomfort and swelling.