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Lymph Node Biopsy

How It Feels

You will feel only a quick sting from the needle if you have a local anesthesia to numb the biopsy area. You may feel some pressure when the biopsy needle is put in. After a fine-needle aspiration biopsy or core needle biopsy, the site may be tender for 2 to 3 days. You also may have a bruise around the site.

If you have general anesthesia for an open lymph node biopsy, you will not be awake during the biopsy. After you wake up, the area may be numb from a local anesthetic that was put into the biopsy site. You will also feel sleepy for several hours.

For 1 to 2 days after an open lymph node biopsy, you may feel tired. You may also have a mild sore throat if a tube was used to help you breathe during the biopsy. Using throat lozenges and gargling with warm salt water may help with the sore throat.

After an open biopsy, the area may feel tender, firm, swollen, and bruised. Fluid may collect near the biopsy site. Fluid may also leak from the biopsy site. You can use an ice pack or take an over-the-counter pain medicine (not aspirin) to help relieve swelling and mild pain. The tenderness should go away in about a week, and the bruising usually fades within 2 weeks. But the firmness and swelling may last for 6 to 8 weeks. Do not do any heavy lifting or other activities that stretch or pull the muscles around the area.


There is a chance of an infection at the biopsy site. An infection can be treated with antibiotics.

Call your doctor immediately if:

  • Your pain lasts longer than a week.
  • You have redness, a lot of swelling, bleeding, or pus from the biopsy site.
  • You have a fever.
  • There is fluid buildup in the area where the lymph node was taken out. This occurs most often when removing the lymph nodes that run in a line from under the arm to the collarbone (axillary lymph nodes). This can happen immediately after surgery or even months or years later. Most people who have a lymph node biopsy do not have a problem with fluid buildup.
  • You have numbness in the skin near the biopsy site. This may be caused by nerve damage.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 14, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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