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Lymph node culture

Culture - lymph node

 

Lymph node culture is a laboratory test done on a sample from a lymph node to identify germs that cause infection.

How the Test is Performed

 

A sample is needed from a lymph node. The sample may be taken using a needle to draw fluid (aspiration) from the lymph node or during a lymph node biopsy.

The sample is sent to a laboratory. There, it is placed in a special dish and watched to see if bacteria, fungi, or viruses grow. This process is called a culture. Sometimes, special stains are also used to identify specific cells or microorganisms before culture results are available.

If needle aspiration does not provide a good enough sample, the entire lymph node may be removed and sent for culture and other testing.

 

How to Prepare for the Test

 

Your health care provider will instruct you on how to prepare for the lymph node sampling.

 

How the Test will Feel

 

When local anesthetic is injected, you will feel a prick and a mild stinging sensation. The site will likely be sore for a few days after the test.

 

Why the Test is Performed

 

Your doctor may order this test if you have swollen glands and infection is suspected.

 

Normal Results

 

A normal result means there was no growth of microorganisms on the lab dish.

Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.

 

What Abnormal Results Mean

 

Abnormal results are a sign of a bacterial, fungal, or viral infection.

 

Risks

 

Risks may include:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection (in rare cases, the wound may get infected and you may need to take antibiotics)
  • Nerve injury if the biopsy is done on a lymph node close to nerves (the numbness usually goes away in a few months)

 

 

References

Armitage JO, Bierman PJ. Approach to the patient with lymphadenopathy and splenomegaly. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 168.

Pasternik MS, Swartz MN. Lymphadenitis and lymphangitis. In: Bennett JE, Dolin R, Blaser MJ, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 97.

 
  • Lymphatic system

    Lymphatic system - illustration

    The lymphatic system filters fluid from around cells. It is an important part of the immune system. When people refer to swollen glands in the neck, they are usually referring to swollen lymph nodes. Common areas where lymph nodes can be easily felt, especially if they are enlarged, are: the groin, armpits (axilla), above the clavicle (supraclavicular), in the neck (cervical), and the back of the head just above hairline (occipital).

    Lymphatic system

    illustration

  • Lymph node culture

    Lymph node culture - illustration

    To obtain a sample of lymph tissue for biopsy, a needle is inserted within the lymph node and a sample of fluid is sent to the laboratory. The laboratory test isolates and identifies organisms that cause infection. The test may be performed if plague is suspected, but it is rarely done otherwise.

    Lymph node culture

    illustration

    • Lymphatic system

      Lymphatic system - illustration

      The lymphatic system filters fluid from around cells. It is an important part of the immune system. When people refer to swollen glands in the neck, they are usually referring to swollen lymph nodes. Common areas where lymph nodes can be easily felt, especially if they are enlarged, are: the groin, armpits (axilla), above the clavicle (supraclavicular), in the neck (cervical), and the back of the head just above hairline (occipital).

      Lymphatic system

      illustration

    • Lymph node culture

      Lymph node culture - illustration

      To obtain a sample of lymph tissue for biopsy, a needle is inserted within the lymph node and a sample of fluid is sent to the laboratory. The laboratory test isolates and identifies organisms that cause infection. The test may be performed if plague is suspected, but it is rarely done otherwise.

      Lymph node culture

      illustration

    A Closer Look

     

      Self Care

       

        Tests for Lymph node culture

         

         

        Review Date: 12/10/2015

        Reviewed By: Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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