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Lymph Node Biopsy
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
What do I need to know about a lymph node biopsy?
Lymph nodes are tiny round organs that help trap and fight infection. A biopsy is a procedure to remove all or part of a lymph node. After a lymph node is removed, it can be tested for infection, cancer, and other medical conditions. The results of these tests can help your healthcare provider decide if you need more tests or treatments.
How do I prepare for a lymph node biopsy?
Your healthcare provider will talk to you about how to prepare for your biopsy. He may tell you not to eat or drink anything after midnight on the day of your biopsy. He will tell you what medicines to take or not take on the day of your biopsy. You may need to stop taking blood thinners or aspirin several days before your biopsy. You may be given contrast liquid or need MRI pictures during your biopsy. Tell your healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid. Do not enter the biopsy room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the healthcare provider if you have any metal in or on your body. Arrange for someone to drive you home and stay with you after your biopsy.
What will happen during a lymph node biopsy?
The type of biopsy may depend on the location of the lymph node or nodes to be removed.
- In a needle biopsy, you may be given local anesthesia to numb the biopsy area. With local anesthesia, you may still feel pressure or pushing during your procedure, but you should not feel any pain. You may also be given IV sedation to help you relax during the procedure. Your healthcare provider may use ultrasound, x-ray, MRI, or CT pictures to help find your lymph node. Once the lymph node is found, he will insert a needle into the lymph node and remove cells. Your healthcare provider may decide to have the cells tested immediately. He will remove the needle and cover the area with a bandage.
- In an open biopsy, you may be given general anesthesia to keep you asleep and free from pain. Your healthcare provider will make a small incision and remove part or all of the lymph node. Your healthcare provider may decide to have the lymph node tested immediately. Depending on the results, he may take more lymph nodes. When he is finished, he will close the incision with stitches or strips of medical tape. He will cover the closed incision with a bandage.
What will happen after a lymph node biopsy?
Healthcare providers will monitor you until you are awake. You may be able to go home when you are awake and your pain is controlled. You may have swelling and bruising at the biopsy site. This is normal and expected.
What are the risks of a lymph node biopsy?
You may develop an infection or bleed more than expected. Nerves may be damaged during the biopsy. You may have swelling (lymphedema) if a group of lymph nodes are removed. This swelling may be permanent.
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