Lymph nodes are bean-shaped glands located in your neck, armpits, groin, chest and abdomen. They are part of your immune system and contain white blood cells that help fight off infections. Lymph nodes can become enlarged because of a viral infection, bacterial infection or an infection located somewhere else in your body; cancer can also cause enlarged lymph nodes.
Types of Biopsies
In order to determine the cause of your lymph node enlargement, your doctor may order a biopsy. This procedure involves removing a small amount of lymph node tissue, which will then be looked at under a microscope. Below are the two most common types of lymph node biopsies:
- Fine-needle aspiration biopsy. This quick procedure involves inserting a thin needle into the lymph node and removing a sample of cells.
- Open (surgical) biopsy. This requires your doctor to make a small cut in your skin and remove a lymph node. This process allows your doctor to take a bigger sample than a needle biopsy could collect. An open biopsy takes about 30 to 60 minutes to complete; if this biopsy is performed to remove cancer then it may take longer.
The site of the fine-needle biopsy will be tender for a few days following the procedure. Many report feeling tired for one to two days following the biopsy as well.
After an open biopsy, the area may be tender, swollen and bruised. You may use an ice pack or take over-the-counter pain medication (not aspirin) to help relieve the pain and swelling. These symptoms should resolve after one to two weeks.
Call Comprehensive ENT at (804) 228-4480 for more information or to schedule an appointment.