Thumbnail image of: Lymph Nodes and Vessels: Illustration

Retroperitoneal Lymph Node Biopsy

What is retroperitoneal lymph node biopsy?

A retroperitoneal lymph node biopsy is a procedure for removing small pieces of tissue from your lymph nodes for lab tests. The retroperitoneal lymph nodes are at the back of your abdominal and pelvic cavity.

When is it used?

Your healthcare provider may suspect that you have cancer in your retroperitoneal lymph nodes. Lymph nodes are oval-shaped organs found throughout your body. The lymph nodes are like a filter, keeping bacteria and other harmful substances out of the bloodstream. They may also trap cancer cells. However, they can also develop a cancer called lymphoma.

How do I prepare for this procedure?

  • Plan for your care and find someone to give you a ride home after the procedure.
  • Some medicines (like aspirin) may increase your risk of bleeding during or after the procedure. Ask your healthcare provider if you need to avoid taking any medicine or supplements before the procedure.
  • You may or may not need to take your regular medicines the day of the procedure, depending on what they are and when you need to take them. Tell your healthcare provider about all medicines and supplements that you take.
  • Follow any other instructions your healthcare provider gives you.
  • Ask any questions you have before the procedure. You should understand what your healthcare provider is going to do. You have the right to make decisions about your healthcare and to give permission for any tests or procedures.

What happens during this procedure?

You will be given a local anesthetic to numb the area. Your provider will use a CT, MRI, or ultrasound scan to help guide a thin needle to the enlarged lymph node. Your provider will remove a small piece of tissue from the lymph nodes for testing.

What happens after this procedure?

You will be in recovery for up to 6 hours to make sure that there is no bleeding. Avoid strenuous activity for the rest of the day.

Ask your healthcare provider:

  • How and when you will hear your test results
  • How long it will take to recover
  • What activities you should avoid and when you can return to your normal activities
  • How to take care of yourself at home
  • What symptoms or problems you should watch for and what to do if you have them

Make sure you know when you should come back for a checkup.

What are the risks with this procedure?

Your healthcare provider will explain the procedure and any risks. Some possible risks include:

  • Anesthesia has some risks. Discuss these risks with your healthcare provider.
  • You may have infection or bleeding.
  • The needle may puncture a nearby blood vessel, an organ, or a gland. This could cause it to leak or bleed.
  • If the needle crosses a collection of bacteria, it could spread an infection to other areas or to the bloodstream.

Every procedure or treatment has risks. Ask your healthcare provider how these risks apply to you. Be sure to discuss any other questions or concerns that you may have.

Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-03-11
Last reviewed: 2014-03-10
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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