>LYMPH NODE BIOPSY

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Definition

Lymph node biopsy is a test in which a sample of lymph tissue is removed for study.

The lymphatic system is made up of lymph nodes connected by lymph vessels. The nodes produce white blood cells (lymphocytes) that fight infections. When an infection is present, the lymph nodes swell, produce more white blood cells, and attempt to trap the organisms that are causing the infection. The lymph nodes also try to trap cancer cells.

In this test, a lymph node or a piece of a lymph node is removed for examination under a microscope.

What is lymphatic system?

The lymphatic system filters fluid from around cells. It is an important part of the immune system. When people refer to swollen glands in the neck, they are usually referring to swollen lymph nodes. Common areas where lymph nodes can be easily felt, especially if they are enlarged, are: the groin, armpits (axilla), above the clavicle (supraclavicular), in the neck (cervical), and the back of the head just above hairline (occipital).

How the test is performed:
The test is done in the hospital. There are two ways the sample may be obtained:

  • > Needle biopsy
    > Open biopsy

A needle biopsy involves inserting a needle into a node to obtain the sample. You will be asked to lie on the examination table. The biopsy site will be cleansed, and a local anesthetic will be injected. The biopsy needle is then inserted into the node. A sample is removed, pressure is applied to the site to stop the bleeding, and a bandage is applied.

An open biopsy consists of surgically removing all or part of a node. You will be asked to lie on the examination table. You may be given a sedative if you prefer. The skin over the biopsy site is cleansed, and a local anesthetic is injected (occasionally, a general anesthetic is given). A small incision is made and the lymph node or part of the node is removed. The incision is then closed with stitches and bandaged.

The sample is then sent to the laboratory for examination

How the test will feel:
When the local anesthetic is injected, there will be a prick and a mild stinging. The biopsy site will be tender for a few days after the test.

Why the test is performed:
The test is used to help determine the cause of lymph node enlargement (swollen glands). It can also determine whether tumors in the lymph node are cancerous or noncancerous.
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