One of the primary functions of the lymphatic system is maintaining fluid and protein balance in the body. The system holds this balance by collecting about four liters of fluid every day from the interstitial space and returning it back to the subclavian vein. In contrast to the blood circulation system that relies on the heart for pumping, there is no central pump in the lymphatic system. Thus, the transport of viscous fluid against gravity and pressure difference occurs by recruiting extrinsic and intrinsic pumping mechanisms. Extrinsic pumping is the transport of lymph due to the movements outside the lymphatic vessel such as the pulse in blood vessels, whereas the intrinsic pumping is transport of lymph by contraction of lymphatic muscle cells embedded in the walls of lymphatic vessels. Similar to the veins, the bi-leaflet valves throughout the lymphatic network prevent backflow. Lymphatic valves are biased open and allow for small amounts of back flow before they completely shut.

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