Lymph Node Culture

Lymph node culture is a pathology test conductedon a lymph node to ascertain microorganisms (fungi, bacteria, and viruses) that is the reason behind infection and lymph node swelling.

What is Lymph Node

Lymph nodes are small, round glands present all over the body which is considered as the production house of white blood cells. The function of white blood cells is to combat attacking foreign microorganisms and cells for instance - bacteria.

During infections, the infecting microorganisms can be displayed in fluid taken from lymph nodes, which mostly gets swollen. Fluid from infected lymph nodes is studied and cultured to ascertain the proper treatment to get rid of infection and bacteria, virus or fungus.

How to Prepare for the Test

There is no special arrangements need to be done for this lab test. But you need to be more cautious about your condition. Don’t forget to alarm your health care provider if you are:

  • pregnant
  • have any drug allergies or have suffered any such reaction earlier  
  • have bleeding disorders
  • on any medications (including any herbal remedies or other natural supplements)

You will also be asked to sign a declaration and consent form.

How the Test is Performed

A fluid sample of a lymph node is required. This can be conducted facilitating a needle to draw out fluid (aspiration) or it can also be taken during a lymph node biopsy.

The test is conducted in an operating ward of a clinic, hospital, or at an outpatient clinic manifesting surgical facility. There are two methods using which the sample may be obtained:

  • Open biopsy
  • Needle biopsy

How Open Biopsy is Conducted

If you are asked to undergo an open biopsy then you have to go through a surgery to get all or some portion of the lymph node. You will be suggested to lie on the examination table. You may be injected a medicine to calm you and make you drowsy, if you wish to. The health care specialist will cleanse your biopsy site, and will administer a local anesthetic (numbing drugs) into the site. Often, common anesthesia is facilitated, which will ensure that you will not experience any pain and you are asleep. A small surgical incision is created, and the lymph node or portion of the node is taken. The area is packed with stitches and a bandage is tied to compress the wound.

How Needle Biopsy is Conducted

In a needle biopsy a needle is inserted into a lymph node. You will be asked to lie on the examination table. The biopsy location will be washed, and the health care professional will administer a local anesthetic (numbing drugs) into the area. The biopsy needle is then made to make way into the node through the skin, and a sample for test is taken. Pressure is applied onto the site to cease the bleeding, and a bandage is administered to curb the bleeding fully. 

How Lymph Node Culture is Conducted

The sample is referred to a laboratory where it is preserved in a separate device and analyzed to witness if bacteria, fungi, or viruses grow. This is called as a culture. In particular occasions prominent stains are also facilitated to determine specific cells or microorganisms.

If needle aspiration does not offer a right sample, the complete lymph node may be taken and sent for culture testing or some other examination.

How the Test Will Feel

While injecting the local anesthesia, there will be a mild sting or prick feeling which you can easily tolerate without facing any problem. The biopsy area may sore for a couple of days after the test.

Why the Test is Performed

Your physician may prescribe this test if you complain of having swollen glands or any infection is suspected.

Normal Results

A normal result goes to say that there was no evidence of microorganisms on the lab dish.
Normal value spans may differ slightly among several laboratories. Consult your doctor how to interpret the meaning of your particular test reports.

What Abnormal Results Mean

Abnormal result goes to say that there is an evidence of some fungal, bacterial, or viral infection. Infections may involve a typical mycobacterial infection.

Risks Factors Association with Lymph Node Culture

  • There are no specific risk factors associated with the patient going through a lymph node culture.
  • Bleeding may often occur if you are facing any bleeding disorder
  • Infection could also be rarely witnessed
  • Nerve injury could be a possible risk if the biopsy is conducted on a lymph node close to nerves

Alternative Names

Biopsy - lymph nodes.