What are lymph nodes?
Lymph nodes are small, bean-shaped glands throughout the body. They are part of the lymph system, which carries fluid (lymph fluid), nutrients, and waste material between the body tissues and the bloodstream. Lymph is a watery fluid that circulates within the lymphatic vessels. The lymph system is an important part of the immune system, the body's defense system against disease.
What is lymphadenopathy?
When lymph nodes become swollen the condition is known as lymphadenopathy. It is also referred to as "swollen glands" or lymphadenitis. Common areas where swollen lymph nodes are more prominent and therefore more readily noticeable are behind the ear, in the neck, the groin, under the chin and in the armpits. Doctor's and other health care professionals usually check these areas for enlarged or swollen lymph nodes.
What are the causes of swollen lymph nodes or lymphadenopathy?
In general, lymph nodes become swollen when they are active either due to a bacterial, viral or fungal infection, inflammation, or cancer.
What is abdominal lymphadenopathy?
When the lymph nodes inside the abdomen become swollen, the condition is known as abdominal lymphadenopathy.
What is so special about abdominal lymphadenopathy?
There are many reasons for that:
- Abdominal lymphadenopathy is difficult to diagnose: Since these lymph nodes are inside the abdomen, they cannot be revealed by just physical examination. Usually ultrasound of the abdomen is required to detect abdominal lymphadenopathy. Occasionally CT scan, MRI or even PET scan are required to exactly locate these swollen lymph nodes.
- Abdominal lymphadenopathy usually indicate serious chronic problem: These can range from infections like tuberculosis, cancers like lymphoma or cancers spread from other organs, and inflammatory diseases like Crohn’s disease.
- The cause of abdominal lymphadenopathy is difficult to determine: Since these lymph nodes are inside the abdomen, it is not easy to palpate them and take tissue from them for FNAC or biopsy. Usually CT-guided, EUS-guided, or USG-guided procedures are required to get tissue from them for diagnosis.
What are the symptoms of abdominal lymphadenopathy?
The common symptoms and signsofabdominal lymphadenopathy are:
- Tenderness or pain, often in the center or lower right side of the abdomen
- Feeling ill
- Loss of appetite
- Fatigue or lack of energy
- Raised white blood cell count
- Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
What is the treatment of abdominal lymphadenopathy?
The treatment depends on the cause. If the lymphadenopathy is due to infections like tuberculosis, then a course of antibiotics is usually needed. If the cause is lymphoma or cancer, then therapy for that cancer is required.