Almost everyone has felt their neck and noticed a lump or area of swelling at some point in time. One of the most common reasons for a mass is a swollen lymph node. A common reason for swollen lymph nodes is infection. The infection could be a virus like a cold or a bacterial infection. Depending on the presumed cause, severity of symptoms, and patient’s physical exam findings, patients may require a biopsy or incision and drainage of the concerning mass. The lymphatic system houses part of the immune system and helps to rid the body of infections and cancer. However, during an active infection and some cancers, lymph nodes and swell, become painful, and even spontaneously drain. It is important to talk to your physician if you notice neck swelling to treat potential infections and possibly prevent cancer.
For those patients with a cold and inflamed lymph nodes in the neck, these usually resolve spontaneously without any specific treatment. For those patients with large, erythematous areas of the neck concerning for infection they may require incision and drainage. However, for those patients with large swollen lymph nodes without an obvious cause, they may require blood work and imaging studies to determine the underlying cause of the enlarged nodes. However, if the tests are inconclusive a lymph node biopsy can help determine the underlying issue.
The biopsy itself can vary from something relatively straight forward to extremely complex. The most basic biopsy is a needle biopsy. In this case, the skin is anesthetized with local anesthesia and a small needle is driving through the area of concern. The goal is to obtain enough tissue to view under a microscope to obtain a diagnosis. This is not a form of treatment. For solitary masses or lymph nodes that need cell structure for a diagnosis or when needle biopsy is not adequate, a small incision is made over the area of concern after the patient has been appropriately anesthetized. This can be performed under general or local anesthesia depending on the patient. Either the entire lymph node or part of it is skeletonized, excised, and then sent to pathology. Finally, if cancer is confirmed, a patient may require a dissection of the lymph nodes in a particular area of the neck. This can be an extensive, complex procedure and requires several days in the hospital.
Regardless of the reason for a biopsy it is important to have a surgeon familiar with the procedure as there are important structures in the neck that mandate careful attention to avoid nerve damage. Florida Surgical Clinic and Dr. Jenna Kazil are located in Bradenton, FL and have developed careful and precise techniques to ensure important structures are protected during a lymph node biopsy. Dr. Kazil is an accomplishedgeneral surgeon in Bradenton who passed challenging exams to earn a board-certification in general surgery. Trust a surgical specialist and contact Florida Surgical Clinic with all surgical needs. Contact the clinic today to schedule an appointment.