Lymph node biopsy

Last updated: Monday, 05, April, 2004

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Item Process
Specimen

Fine needle aspiration biopsy, or open surgical biopsy.

Method

Fresh tissue: microbiological examination, frozen section, immunohistochemistry, smears, imprints, flow cytometry, cytogenetics and molecular genetics. 

Fixed tissue: light microscopy, immunohistochemistry, electron microscopy (special fixative). 
For satisfactory sampling, particularly if lymphoma is suspected, it is essential that lymph nodes are removed with minimal trauma and are submitted fresh to the laboratory without delay. 
If delay is unavoidable, nodes can be transported or stored for short periods at 4oC (do not freeze), in tissue culture medium or normal saline.
As special fixatives are often used formalin fixation should be avoided (consult laboratory staff prior to undertaking the biopsy procedure). 

See also Cell immunophenotypingFlow cytometry and Immunohistology.

Application

Investigation of lymphadenopathy;  determination of extent of spread of neoplasms, staging of lymphoma.

Interpretation

Diagnosis of inflammatory conditions, infections and type and grade of malignancy.

Reference

Banks PM. In: Knowles DM ed. Neoplastic Haematology. 2nd ed. Lippincott Williams and Wilkins 2001.