Patient Education - Lung Cancer Program at UCLA
yourself about lung cancer:
Lymph node biopsy is a test in which a lymph node or a piece of a lymph node is removed
for examination under a microscope.
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.
Biopsy - lymph nodes
How the Test is Performed
The test is done in an operating room in a hospital, or at an outpatient surgical facility.
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
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 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 to Prepare for the Test
Tell your health care provider about any drug allergies you have, which medications you
are taking (including any supplements or herbal remedies), if you have bleeding problems,
and if you are pregnant. You must sign a consent form.
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 may also determine whether tumors in the lymph node are cancerous or noncancerous.
Enlarged lymph nodes may be caused by a number of conditions, ranging from very mild
infections to serious malignancies. Benign conditions can often be distinguished from cancerous
and infectious processes by microscopic examination. The pathologist may also perform additional
tests on the lymph node tissue to assist in making a diagnosis.
What Abnormal Results Mean
The examination of the tissue may show cancerous or noncancerous tumors, or the presence
Additional conditions under which the test may be performed:
- Hodgkin's lymphoma
- Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
With this test there is a small chance of infection or bleeding. Additionally, there
is a moderate risk of nerve injury, localized paralysis, or numbness when the biopsy is performed
on a lymph node close to nerves.
Review Date: 7/14/2006
Reviewed By: J.A. Lee, M.D., Division of Surgery, UCSF, San Francisco, CA. Review provided
by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission
(www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that
A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among
the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information and
services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial process and privacy
policy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics and subscribes to the principles
of the Health on the Net Foundation (www.hon.ch).
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for
the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should
be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for
all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do
not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2007 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication
or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.