Lymph Node Biopsy

A lymph node biopsy is a serious, critical surgical maneuver which involves the removal of diseased lymph node tissue from the body. This tissue is then carefully examined under a microscope to determine the cause of its malfunction.

Lymph nodes are small glands located throughout the body (chiefly in the neck) which produce white blood cells in order to fight infections, viruses, and harmful bacteria. These lymph nodes work to trap and smother the germs which are causing the infection, and prevent it from spreading to other parts of the body. In some cases, cancer can spread to the lymph nodes, which can cause them to swell and cease to function properly.

How Lymph Node Biopsy is done?

A lymph node biopsy is performed by a surgeon in an operating room, usually at a hospital, but sometimes on an outpatient basis. Biopsies are performed, according to the needs of the patient, in several manners.

The simplest lymph node biopsy is known as a needle biopsy. The patient lies on the

Lymph Node Biopsy
Lymph Node Biopsy. Source: healthcentral.com

table, a nurse cleans the area that will be operated on, and your surgeon administers an anesthetic. The surgeon then simply inserts a needle into your lymph node, and removes a sample for testing. He then applies pressure to staunch the bleeding that results from the piercing, and bandages are then applied to cover the wound and prevention infectious bacteria from settling in.

This particular lymph node biopsy procedure usually takes less than 10 minutes. It should be noted that this procedure provides your surgeon with only a small sample of cells for testing. In cases where cancer is suspected as the cause of inflammation, this procedure will not be adequate.

A more comprehensive lymph node biopsy is known as an open biopsy. As in a needle biopsy, you lie down on the table. This time, you will be fully unconscious, due to being administered a sleeping agent. The site where the biopsy is to be performed will be cleansed by your nurse, and your surgeon will inject another dose of anesthetic.

As soon as you are fully under, your surgeon will make a cut, and completely remove the node. He will then stitch up the area and apply bandages. This procedure lasts a bit longer than a needle biopsy, usually around 45-60 minutes in total.

When cancer is suspected as the cause of the inflammation, a different sort of lymph node biopsy will be performed. This is a specialized procedure, which is known as a sentinel lymph node biopsy. In this procedure, a tiny amount of tracer fluid, in most cases a blue dye or a radioactive isotope, is injected by your surgeon into the site. This tracer will then flow into the suspected source of the cancer, the sentinel node. This sentinel node is generally the first location in which cancer would first be found.

After the sentinel lymph node is removed, a sample of its mass is sent to the testing laboratory for analysis. One or two other lymph nodes may be removed at the same time, in order to serve as samples for comparison.

Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy


Signs for Lymph Node Biopsy

It is important for the patient to note that not every lymph node biopsy immediately results in a diagnosis of terminal cancer, far from it. This test is normally performed when you or your health care provider note the presence of swollen nodes, a presence which continues after several days with no sign of abating. If your doctor then performs a lymph node biopsy and the sample he tests does not show any tell tale signs of a cancer, then it is very likely that the rest of your nodes are healthy or, at least, non-cancerous.

Therefore, there is no reason to put off a lymph node biopsy because you are afraid of the potential results. Get to your doctor and get checked out. Remember, you only have one life, the quality of which is in your own hands and no one else’s. Best of luck and health to you!

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