Lymph node biopsy

What is a Lymph Node Biopsy?

A lymph node biopsy is a procedure in which a doctor removes a sample of lymph nodes and examines them under a microscope. It’s used to diagnose cancer or other diseases that may have spread to the lymph node. The insertion of a thin needle or a scalpel is usually used to remove the sample.


Before the procedure, the doctor will explain the risks and why they are performing the lymph node biopsy. The patient should be aware of the procedures and what to expect. The patient should discuss any medications, supplements, or natural remedies they are taking. The doctor may recommend they stop taking any medications, supplements, or natural remedies that can interact with the procedure.


The patient will be asked to lie face up on an examination table. The area that will be biopsied will be clean with an antiseptic. In some cases, a local anesthetic may be used to numb the area that is being biopsied. Then a thin needle or scalpel will be inserted into the lymph node and a sample will be removed and sent to the laboratory for analysis.

Types of Lymph Node Biopsy

  • Core Needle Biopsy - A needle with a larger diameter is used to remove samples of lymph nodes.
  • Fine Needle Aspiration - A thin needle is used to extract cells from the lymph nodes.
  • Surgical Excision - A scalpel is used to remove a larger sample of lymph nodes.

Risks of Lymph Node Biopsy

Any procedure carries risks, and a lymph node biopsy is no different. Possible risks include bleeding, pain, infection, and damage to surrounding tissue. Rarely, complications can include a collapsed lung, partial paralysis, or coma.

Why is a Lymph Node Biopsy Performed?

A lymph node biopsy is usually performed to determine if cancer has spread to the lymph nodes. It may also be performed to determine the cause of swelling in the lymph nodes. In some cases, it may be performed on people who present with a particular type of lymph node disease so that the doctor can have more information about the condition.

When is a Lymph Node Biopsy Performed?

A lymph node biopsy can be performed when the doctor suspects that the lymph nodes may be affected by cancer or other diseases. It may also be performed if the patient is experiencing swelling in the lymph nodes or if the doctor is trying to determine the cause of an abnormal lymph node.