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Lymph Node Needle Biopsy: The procedure, risks, complications, preparations

  • Posted on- Jul 29, 2016
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Lymph Node Needle Biopsy is a minimally invasive procedure. During this procedure, a biopsy of the lymph node tissue is performed to evaluate lymph node abnormalities, such as a lymph node mass, a lymph node cyst, and for any other abnormalities that affects lymph node function. The procedure is also conducted to sample abnormal lymph node tissue, which is then examined to detect the presence of abnormalities.

What are the reasons for a lymph node needle biopsy?

The Lymph Node Needle Biopsy procedure is performed to analyse a mass, an abnormal tissue, such as a cyst in the lymph node, or to evaluate abnormal functioning of the lymph node.

  • The procedure is one of the most important methods used in diagnosing any disease of the lymph node, including lymphomas, infections, and lymph node metastasis (metastatic malignancy)
  • The lymph node could be benign or malignant

How a lymph node needle biopsy is performed?

  • The procedure is usually performed using ultrasound technique or CT scan, depending on the location of the lymph node abnormality. If the lymph node is in a superficial location and readily accessible, then such ultrasound techniques or CT scan guidance, may not be required
  • During the Lymph Node Needle Biopsy procedure, a very fine and hollow needle is inserted, where the mass or abnormality is noticed
  • If the mass is a cyst, then the fluid contained within the cyst is withdrawn. If the mass is a tumour, the needle may have to be inserted many more times, to remove a small amount of a tissue for pathological and biochemical examination. If infection is suspected, then the cyst fluid is sent to a laboratory for microbiological cultures
  • The extracted sample is sent for further pathological examination, by a pathologist
  • After the procedure, a little pressure is applied to the point where the needle was inserted and the spot bandaged
  • In fine needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy, a small amount of tissue is aspirated and smeared on a glass slide. This glass slide is later examined by a pathologist under a microscope. Fine needle aspiration can be performed on a cyst, or on a solid mass
  • In core needle biopsy (CNB), a hollow needle is inserted into the area of interest and cylindrical cores of the tissue are removed. The thin cylindrical tissue cores are then processed in the laboratory, to be examined by a pathologist. Core needle biopsy is usually performed on a solid mass

The lymph node needle biopsy is performed by a trained physician or a radiologist. The procedure may take anywhere between 30-60 minutes.

Preparations needed before a lymph node needle biopsy

The following preparations may be performed prior to a lymph node needle biopsy procedure:
  • The physician may evaluate the individual’s medical history to gain information related to the overall health status including the medications that are being currently taken
  • Some medications increase a person’s chances of bleeding and it may be recommended to discontinue them for a period of time, before the procedure is performed
  • Normally, local anaesthesia is used hence, do inform the physician if you are allergic to any local anaesthetics, lidocaine, etc.
  • Avoid application of any cosmetics, deodorant, or topical medicines on the area, prior to the procedure
  • It is advisable to quit smoking and the use of any nicotine based products, for a while, before the surgery
  • Consumption of alcoholic drinks must also be avoided for a period of time, as instructed
  • The patient must avoid eating or drinking at least 8 hours prior to the surgical procedure, depending on when the procedure is arranged
  • For persons suffering from diabetes, it is important that the blood sugar stays within the normal range if not their diabetologist may have to control blood sugar by recommending insulin or a combination of oral medicines

Risks and complications during lymph node needle biopsy surgical procedure

The possible risks or complications that may arise during the biopsy are:
  • Allergic reaction to the anaesthetic medication used
  • Infection
  • Syncope (fainting), due to vasovagal response may occur

Risks and complications after lymph node needle biopsy surgical procedure

Post Lymph Node Needle Biopsy procedure, the following complications may arise:
  • The patient may experience a hematoma (collection of blood under the skin) at the site
  • Pain at the biopsy site
  • Sometimes, an infection may develop at the point, where the needle was inserted for aspiration

Post-operative care needed after a lymph node needle biopsy surgical procedure

At home, the following post-operative care is recommended, after a lymph node needle biopsy procedure:
  • Wash the site of aspiration with soap
  • Remove the bandage after 1-2 days
  • Resume daily activities, as early as possible
  • Avoid taking drugs that are not prescribed
  • Do not take prescription pain-killers longer than prescribed


user profile image
17-12-2017 02:19 PM

Years ago, I had went through Lymph Node Needle Biopsy. Post operational results are upto the mark.

user profile image
29-08-2017 06:46 AM

The information you shared is very useful. It comprises of all the things ranging from causes, symptoms to cost.

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