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Synonyms Adenopathy
Neck lymphadenopathy associated with infectious mononucleosis
Classification and external resources
Specialty Infectious disease
ICD-10 I88, L04, R59.1
ICD-9-CM 289.1-289.3, 683, 785.6
DiseasesDB 22225
MedlinePlus 001301
eMedicine ped/1333
MeSH D008206

Lymphadenopathy or adenopathy is disease of the lymph nodes, in which they are abnormal in size, number, or consistency.[1] Lymphadenopathy of an inflammatory type (the most common type) is lymphadenitis,[2] producing swollen or enlarged lymph nodes. In clinical practice, the distinction between lymphadenopathy and lymphadenitis is rarely made and the words are usually treated as synonymous. Inflammation of the lymphatic vessels is known as lymphangitis.[3] Infectious lymphadenitides affecting lymph nodes in the neck are often called scrofula.

The term comes from the word lymph and a combination of the Greek words αδένας, adenas ("gland") and παθεία, patheia ("act of suffering" or "disease").

Lymphadenopathy is a common and nonspecific sign. Common causes include infections (from minor ones such as the common cold to dangerous ones such as HIV/AIDS), autoimmune diseases, and cancers. Lymphadenopathy is also frequently idiopathic and self-limiting.


Long and short axis.png
Micrograph of dermatopathic lymphadenopathy, a type of lymphadenopathy. H&E stain.
CT scan of axillary lymphadenopathy in a 57 year old man with multiple myeloma.
  • By size, lymphadenopathy in adults is present when the short axis of one or more lymph nodes is greater than 10mm.[4][5] However, there is regional variation as detailed in this table:
Upper limit of lymph node sizes in adults
Generally 10 mm[4][5]
Inguinal 10[6] – 20 mm[7]
Pelvis 10 mm for ovoid lymph nodes, 8 mm for rounded[6]
Generally (non-retropharyngeal) 10 mm[6][8]
Jugulodigastric lymph nodes 11mm[6] or 15 mm[8]
Retropharyngeal 8 mm[8]
  • Lateral retropharyngeal: 5 mm[6]
Mediastinum, generally 10 mm[6]
Superior mediastinum and high paratracheal 7mm[9]
Low paratracheal and subcarinal 11 mm[9]
Upper abdominal
Retrocrural space 6 mm[10]
Paracardiac 8 mm[10]
Gastrohepatic ligament 8 mm[10]
Upper paraaortic region 9 mm[10]
Portacaval space 10 mm[10]
Porta hepatis 7 mm[10]
Lower paraaortic region 11 mm[10]

Lymphadenopathy of the axillary lymph nodes can be defined as solid nodes measuring more than 15 mm without fatty hilum.[11] Axillary lymph nodes may be normal up to 30 mm if consisting largely of fat.[11]

In children, a short axis of 8 mm can be used.[12] However, inguinal lymph nodes of up to 15 mm and cervical lymph nodes of up to 20 mm are generally normal in children up to age 8–12.[13]


Retroperitoneal lymphadenopathies of testicular seminoma, embrace the aorta. Computed tomography image.

Lymph node enlargement is recognized as a common sign of infectious, autoimmune, or malignant disease. Examples may include:

Less common infectious causes of lymphadenopathy may include bacterial infections such as cat scratch disease, tularemia, brucellosis, or prevotella.[citation needed]

Benign (reactive) lymphadenopathy[edit]

Benign lymphadenopathy is a common biopsy finding, and may often be confused with malignant lymphoma. It may be separated into major morphologic patterns, each with its own differential diagnosis with certain types of lymphoma. Most cases of reactive follicular hyperplasia are easy to diagnose, but some cases may be confused with follicular lymphoma. There are seven distinct patterns of benign lymphadenopathy:[17]

These morphological patterns are never pure. Thus, reactive follicular hyperplasia can have a component of paracortical hyperplasia. However, this distinction is important for the differential diagnosis of the cause.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ King, D; Ramachandra, J; Yeomanson, D (2 January 2014). "Lymphadenopathy in children: refer or reassure?". Archives of Disease in Childhood: Education and Practice Edition. 99: 101–110. doi:10.1136/archdischild-2013-304443. PMID 24385291. 
  2. ^ "lymphadenitis" at Dorland's Medical Dictionary
  3. ^ "lymphangitis" at Dorland's Medical Dictionary
  4. ^ a b Ganeshalingam, Skandadas; Koh, Dow-Mu (2009). "Nodal staging". Cancer Imaging. 9 (1). doi:10.1102/1470-7330.2009.0017. ISSN 1470-7330. 
  5. ^ a b Schmidt Júnior, Aurelino Fernandes; Rodrigues, Olavo Ribeiro; Matheus, Roberto Storte; Kim, Jorge Du Ub; Jatene, Fábio Biscegli (2007). "Distribuição, tamanho e número dos linfonodos mediastinais: definições por meio de estudo anatômico". Jornal Brasileiro de Pneumologia. 33 (2): 134–140. doi:10.1590/S1806-37132007000200006. ISSN 1806-3713. 
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  7. ^ "Assessment of lymphadenopathy". BMJ Best Practice. Retrieved 2017-03-04.  Last updated: Last updated: Feb 16, 2017
  8. ^ a b c Page 432 in: Luca Saba (2016). Image Principles, Neck, and the Brain. CRC Press. ISBN 9781482216202. 
  9. ^ a b Sharma, Amita; Fidias, Panos; Hayman, L. Anne; Loomis, Susanne L.; Taber, Katherine H.; Aquino, Suzanne L. (2004). "Patterns of Lymphadenopathy in Thoracic Malignancies". RadioGraphics. 24 (2): 419–434. doi:10.1148/rg.242035075. ISSN 0271-5333. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g Dorfman, R E; Alpern, M B; Gross, B H; Sandler, M A (1991). "Upper abdominal lymph nodes: criteria for normal size determined with CT". Radiology. 180 (2): 319–322. doi:10.1148/radiology.180.2.2068292. ISSN 0033-8419. 
  11. ^ a b Page 559 in: Wolfgang Dähnert (2011). Radiology Review Manual. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. ISBN 9781609139438. 
  12. ^ Page 942 in: Richard M. Gore, Marc S. Levine (2010). High Yield Imaging Gastrointestinal HIGH YIELD in Radiology. Elsevier Health Sciences. ISBN 9781455711444. 
  13. ^ Laurence Knott. "Generalised Lymphadenopathy". Patient UK. Retrieved 2017-03-04.  Last checked: 24 March 2014
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  19. ^ Kennedy, PG (February 2013). "Clinical features, diagnosis, and treatment of human African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness)". Lancet Neurology. 12 (2): 186–194. doi:10.1016/S1474-4422(12)70296-X. PMID 23260189. 
  20. ^ a b c Status and anamnesis, Anders Albinsson. Page 12
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External links[edit]