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J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2005 Oct;105(10):447-56.

Increased lymphatic flow in the thoracic duct during manipulative intervention.

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  • 1University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth-Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine, Department of Integrative Physiology, Fort Worth, TX 76107-2644, USA.


The thoracic pump and the abdominal pump are osteopathic manipulative (OM) lymphatic pump techniques frequently used by osteopathic physicians to treat patients with infections (eg, pneumonia, otitis media). Although there is a widely accepted belief among the osteopathic medical profession that increasing lymphatic flow is beneficial, no measurements of lymph flow during osteopathic manipulative treatment have been reported. The authors surgically instrumented five mongrel dogs to record lymphatic flow in the thoracic duct (TDF) and cardiac variables during three intervention protocols. After recovery from surgery, canine subjects were placed in a standing-support sling, and TDF, cardiac output, mean aortic blood pressure, and heart rate were recorded during two randomized 30-second sessions of manipulative intervention using the osteopathic thoracic pump and abdominal pump techniques on two successive days. Lymph flow in the thoracic duct increased from 1.57+/-0.20 mL x min(-1) to a peak TDF of 4.80+/-1.73 mL x min(-1) during abdominal pump, and from 1.20+/-0.41 mL x min(-1) to 3.45+/-1.61 mL x min(-1) during thoracic pump. Lymph flow in the thoracic duct and cardiac variables were also recorded for canine subjects during physical activity (ie, treadmill exercise at 3 miles per hour at 0% incline). During physical activity, TDF increased from 1.47+/-0.33 mL x min(-1) to 5.81+/-1.30 mL x min(-1). Although cardiac variables did not change significantly during manipulative intervention with lymphatic pump techniques, cardiac output and heart rate did increase during physical activity. The authors conclude that physical activity and manipulative intervention using thoracic pump and abdominal pump techniques produced net increases in TDF (P<.05).

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