An audit to study the diagnostic yield of lymph node biopsies under local anaesthesia

Coelho Victor, Albert A. Kota, Lalchandami Colney, Beulah Roopavathana, Suchita Chase, Sukria Nayak


Background: Surgical referrals for lymph node biopsies are common, majority for diagnostic purposes. The indications and the diagnostic yield vary for different sites. We conducted an audit of the lymph node biopsies done over a period of seven months.

Methods: The audit included 547 patients who underwent lymph node biopsies under local anesthesia in the department of general surgery over a seven-month period. Parameters such as overall diagnostic yield of lymph node biopsies, disease specific yield of lymph node biopsies with a primary focus on tuberculosis; site specific yield of lymph node biopsies and  referral pattern for the request for lymph node biopsies were analysed.

Results: 324 samples (59.2%) yielded a definite diagnosis, which included haematological malignancy 102 (31.5%), infectious diseases 131 (40.5%), and 59 (18.5%) malignancy. The diagnostic yield of supraclavicular lymph nodes was found to be highest (72.45%) and the axillary group the lowest (39.8%). The referral pattern seen was 314 (57.4%) from General medicine, 149 (27.2%) from General Surgery, and 84 (15.4%) from Haematology. 130 (23.8%) samples were tested for tuberculosis; the highest yield, acquired from the cervical group (52.8%), lowest from the inguinal region (4%).

Conclusions: Our audit revealed significant diagnostic yield of lymph node biopsies from the supraclavicular region. Majority of them were of infectious aetiology and referred from General Medicine. This study supports the introduction of co-ordinated problem-based referral and management pathways for the management of patients with enlarged superficial lymph nodes, supported by regular audits of practice.


Audit, Haematological malignancy, Infectious disease, Lymphadenopathy, Lymph node biopsy, Outpatients

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