Lymph nodes are small structures that filter harmful substances from lymph fluid as well as produce white blood cells (lymphocytes). Lymph nodes are located throughout the body, for example under the skin and within the chest and abdominal cavity. Enlarged lymph nodes can be present when there is inflammation, infection or cancer in the vicinity of the lymph node.
A lymph node aspirate, or biopsy, is a procedure in which the lymph node is sampled.
An aspirate is performed by gently inserting a small needle into and sampling the enlarged lymph node. A biopsy is more complicated and requires general anesthesia to obtain a small piece (biopsy) or removal of the entire lymph node. The aspirate or biopsy is submitted to a veterinary pathologist for analysis.
If your pet has unexplained enlargement of one or more lymph nodes, they may benefit from a lymph node aspirate or biopsy.