Are Lymph Nodes of Head, Neck and Axillary Palpable? Learn How to Examine it

Marketing Dept., | 11 min read
Marketing Dept., | 11 min read

What is a Lymph Node Exame?

A lymph node is a small, bean-shaped organ that is part of the lymphatic system. Lymph nodes filter substances that travel through the lymph fluid, and they contain immune cells that help fight infection by attacking and destroying germs carried in the lymph. A lymph node exam is often performed as part of a routine physical examination, as well as to investigate symptoms such as swollen glands, persistent infections, or signs of cancer. If abnormalities are detected, further testing or evaluation may be recommended to determine the underlying cause.

7 Major Locations of Lymph Nodes

The seven major locations of lymph nodes in the human body are:

1. Cervical (lymph nodes head and neck) - These lymph nodes are located along the sides of the neck and play a crucial role in filtering lymph from the head and neck area. They are often the first to swell in response to respiratory infections.

2. Axillary (lymph nodes armpits) - Situated under the arms, axillary lymph nodes filter lymph from the arms and the upper torso. These nodes are key in the body’s immune response and are commonly evaluated in breast cancer diagnostics.

3. Mediastinal (lymph chest) - Found within the chest cavity, particularly around the trachea and lungs, mediastinal lymph nodes are important for filtering substances from the lungs and heart. Issues here can be related to respiratory infections and certain cancers.

4. Mesenteric (lymph nodes abdomen) - These lymph nodes are embedded in the mesentery, which attaches the intestine to the abdominal wall. They are essential for the immune surveillance of the digestive tract.

5. Inguinal (lymph nodes groin) - Located in the groin area, these nodes drain areas from the lower abdomen, pelvis, and lower limbs. They are particularly involved in filtering lymph from the legs and genital area.

6. Popliteal (lymph nodes behind the knee) - These nodes are situated at the back of the knee and filter lymph from the lower leg. Swelling in these nodes can sometimes indicate infections or injuries to the foot or leg.

7. Supraclavicular (lymph nodes above the collarbone) - Positioned above the collarbone, these lymph nodes generally collect lymph from the head, neck, and chest area. Swelling in these nodes can be a sign of serious conditions, including cancers, making their assessment critical in certain diagnoses

Are Lymph Nodes Palpable? Learn how to examine it

To examine palpable lymph nodes, use the pads of your index and middle fingers to assess various characteristics such as size, shape, number, pliability, texture, mobility, and tenderness. Examine nodes in specific body regions including the head and neck, axillae, upper extremities, and lower extremities. Ensure bilateral examination for comparison. Notably, some nodes such as the deep cervical nodes beneath the sternomastoid muscle may not be palpable.

Examination Procedure by Region

Find here tips for the Examination Procedure by Region:

A.Head and Neck: Inspect and palpate nodes around the preauricular, posterior auricular, mastoid, occipital, tonsillar, submandibular, submental, anterior and superficial cervical, posterior cervical, supraclavicular, and infraclavicular areas.

B.Axillae and Upper Extremity: Examine the central axillary nodes which are usually palpable, along with brachial, subscapular, and pectoral nodes. Also, palpate the epitrochlear nodes above the elbow.

C.Lower Extremities: Palpate the superficial inguinal nodes located high in the anterior thigh which are often large enough to be felt. These include both horizontal and vertical groups of nodes.

What causes swollen lymph nodes?

Swollen lymph nodes are usually caused by infections such as a cold or strep throat, immune system disorders, or cancers like lymphoma or leukemia. Maintaining healthy lymph nodes is essential for a well-functioning immune system. Although you cannot prevent lymph nodes as they are crucial immune components, you can promote their health and lessen the risk of problems such as infections that cause swelling. 

Role of Lymph Nodes in Immune Response

Lymph nodes play a critical role in the immune system by acting as filters for harmful substances. They contain immune cells such as lymphocytes and macrophages, which attack and destroy bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens that enter the lymph fluid. This makes them a key component in the body's defense mechanism against infections and diseases. 

How to learn more about Lymph Nodes with JoVE.com

To learn more about lymph nodes using the resources available at JoVE.com, you can follow these steps to maximize your learning and gain a deep understanding of the roles, functions, and diseases related to lymph nodes:

1.Watch Demonstrative Videos: JoVE is renowned for its high-quality videos that show laboratory experiments and techniques about Lymph Nodes. Watch videos that demonstrate procedures like lymph node biopsies, dissection techniques, or methods of studying the lymphatic system in animal or human models. These videos often come with detailed explanations and subtitles to aid understanding.

Lymph Nodes Head and Neck Axxilae Upper Lower Extremities 

2. Read Research Articles: Besides videos, JoVE publishes peer-reviewed research articles that can provide deeper insights into recent studies related to lymph nodes. These articles may address everything from diagnostic techniques to treatments for diseases affecting lymph nodes.

Lymph Node Articles

3.Subscriptions and Institutional Access: Check if your institution has a JoVE subscription for full-access to the resources. If not, you may request a free trial or explore the open-access resources available on the site. Link to Subscription

Conclusion for Lymph Nodes Physical Examination 

Regular and thorough physical examinations of lymph nodes in the head and neck are imperative for early detection and management of potential health issues. Techniques such as ultrasound and biopsy are invaluable for assessing the state of lymph nodes and identifying abnormalities early on. This proactive approach ensures that any concerning changes, such as swelling in specific areas like the neck or under the jaw, are promptly addressed. By maintaining vigilance through consistent monitoring and using advanced diagnostic tools, healthcare providers can significantly improve the prognosis for conditions affecting lymph nodes, enhancing overall patient care and outcomes.

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