Axillary Lymph Node Biopsy

Axillary Lymph node (underarm gland) enlargement is a common problem among Indian women.

Patient usually present with complaints of pain in the armpit and/or lumps in the underarm area.

Majority of the times these lumps are reactive in nature, that means they enlarge due to non specific causes like mild hair follicle infection, which can occur after shaving or waxing of hair.

On the other hand, these glands can also become enlarged due to:

  1. Infections like tuberculosis, which can be associated with weight loss & fever
  2. Cancers – commonest cancer which gives rise to underarm nodes is breast cancer. Axillary lymph nodes are the first point of spread from breast cancer.

 

An ultrasound can confirm the diagnosis of axillary lymph node enlargement and if these glands do not resolve after a course of antibiotics, they require a FNAC (fine needle aspiration cytology or in simple terms a ‘needle test’).

If FNAC is inconclusive, then an axillary lymph node biopsy is required to confirm the diagnosis. Axillary lymph node biopsy is a minor procedure, which can be performed as a day care surgery.

 

If you or anyone whom you know has underarm pain or lumps, it is best to get yourself examined by a surgeon.

 

 

Information provided by:

Dr. Rohan Khandelwal

Breast Cancer Surgeon

W Pratiksha Hospital

Gurgaon

 

Seroma formation – a common complication of axillary surgery

A seroma is accumulation of clear fluid in the body after surgery. It is a common complication which can occur in the underarm area (axilla) after breast or axillary surgery. In fact, axillary seromas have been seen even after axillary lymph node biopsy or sentinel lymph node biopsy for breast cancer

To prevent seroma formation, surgeons insert drains after breast and axillary surgery ( both cancerous and non cancerous). Drains are usually removed once the output falls below 40 cc for two consecutive days. Early removal of drains is a common cause which can predispose to seroma formation after breast cancer surgery. 

Patients usually develop fluid collections within 5-7 days after surgery and they present with pain and swelling in the axillary region. Diagnosis of a seroma can be made by your breast cancer surgeon and in case of any doubt, an axillary ultrasound can confirm the diagnosis (image)

Axillary Seroma

Axillary Seroma

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Management of an axillary seroma is relatively simple. They can be aspirated under local anaesthesia. Patients might require 2-3 aspirations before the seroma subsides.

Sometimes fluid collections can become infected and can give rise to pus formation in the axillary region. These situations can be avoided if seromas are detected and aspirated in time.

 

 

Information provided by:

Dr. Rohan Khandelwal

Consultant, Breast Surgeon

W Pratiksha Hospital, Gurgaon