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How do doctors obtain images of swollen lymph nodes?

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Quick Answer

Doctors use scans or imaging tests, such as X-rays and CT scans, to obtain images of swollen lymph nodes, especially those that are found in areas of deep tissue, according to the Mayo Clinic. Ultrasounds are used during a biopsy to create images of the node surrounding the needle.

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Full Answer

Swollen lymph nodes indicate the presence of illness or infection, as the Cleveland Clinic indicates. The nodes around the affected part of the body begin to swell. If the nodes are located close to the skin surface, they can be visible to the naked eye. Swollen lymph nodes can be painful, but the presence of serious symptoms such as fatigue, chronic fever, swelling at the base of the neck or prolonged swelling requires immediate medical care.

There are hundreds of nodes in the body, ranging from small to large and found in various parts of the body, states the Cleveland Clinic. The lymph nodes that are found close to the surface of the skin are more easily detectable and generally do not require imaging tests, although scans and X-rays may still be needed to find the underlying cause of swollen lymph nodes. Doctors must remove the lymph nodes if cancer starts in the lymph nodes or spreads to the lymph nodes from other cancerous parts of the body, asserts the American Cancer Society.

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