Lymph node biopsy

Why do patients require a lymph node biopsy?

Lymph nodes can harbour infection and some cancerous tumours can metastasise to lymph nodes. We therefore sometimes require to biopsy or remove a lymph node to determine a diagnosis. 

How is this procedure performed?

Often we can obtain a small biopsy under ultrasound control using a fine needle.  If this biopsy process does not confirm the diagnosis then an open excision of a lymph node may be recommended.  This is performed through a small incision. 

Local anaesthetic is usually placed in the wound following the procedure to avoid post-operative discomfort.  The wound is closed with a suture.  The lymph node is sent for pathology but it can take some days to confirm the diagnosis.  

What is the recovery like? 

You should be able to go home the same day of your biopsy. You will likely feel some tenderness and soreness on the biopsied area for the first few days following your procedure. 

You will be advised to keep the biopsied area dry and clean during this time. 

You should be able to return to work the day following your biopsy. 

Are there any risks involved?

The specific risks of the procedure depend on the position of the lymph node and these risks will be explained by your surgeon. 

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