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Alternative Names Return to topCulture - lymph node
Definition Return to top
Lymph node culture is a laboratory test performed on a lymph node to identify microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, and fungi) that cause infection.
How the Test is Performed Return to top
A sample of fluid from a lymph node is needed. This may be done using a needle to draw out fluid (aspiration) or during a lymph node biopsy.
The sample is sent to a laboratory where it is placed in a special dish and watched to see if bacteria, fungi, or viruses grow. This is called a culture. Sometimes special stains are also used.
If needle aspiration does not provide a good enough sample, the entire lymph node may be removed and sent for culture.
How to Prepare for the Test Return to top
There is no special preparation needed for the lab test. For information on how to prepare for the lymph node sample, see lymph node biopsy.
How the Test Will Feel Return to top
For information on how the removal of the lymph node sample may feel, see lymph node biopsy.
Why the Test is Performed Return to top
Your doctor may order this test if you have swollen glands and infection is suspected.
Normal Results Return to top
A normal result means there was no growth of microorganisms on the lab dish.
Note: Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.
What Abnormal Results Mean Return to top
Abnormal results are a sign of a bacterial, fungal, or viral infection. Infections may include atypical mycobacterial infection.
Risks Return to top
There is no risk to the patient associated with a lymph node culture. For risks related to the removal of the lymph node sample, see lymph node biopsy.Update Date: 12/3/2007 Updated by: D. Scott Smith, M.D., MSc, DTM&H, Chief of Infectious Disease & Geographic Medicine, Kaiser Redwood City, CA & Adjunct Assistant Professor, Stanford University. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.