Lymph Node Biopsy


What is a lymph node?

Lymph nodes are an important part of the immune system which helps the body to fight infections. Usually it is not possible to feel lymph nodes but they can become enlarged in several diseases. When they are enlarged they can be felt in the neck, groin or armpit areas.


What is a biopsy?

A biopsy involves taking a small piece of tissue from the body and looking at it down the microscope. In the case of a lymph node biopsy usually the whole node is removed. Most commonly this is done from the neck, however it can be done from other areas of the body if required. Sometimes small thin cores are taken instead of the whole lymph node, this can usually help determine the cause of the swelling.


Why is it being performed?

Looking at tissue under the microscope gives a great detail of information which cannot be obtained from scans alone. The individual cells can be seen, this helps to determine which disease is present and the activity of disease. This information is essential in planning the best course of treatment.


How is it performed?

The procedure is performed by a surgeon and not yourhaematology doctor. The area is numbed with local anaesthetic before the short procedure is performed. In most cases patients are not put to sleep and patients are not kept in hospital after the procedure.


When will I get the results?

After the sample is removed it is looked at by a pathologist, these doctors specialise in looking at tissue down the microscope. After they have analysed the sample they write a report which is then given to your doctor. This takes about a week in total to happen. 



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Written by: Dr T Rider

Editor: Dr J Newman

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