The Diagnostic Yield of Excisional Biopsy in Cervical Lymphadenopathy: A Retrospective Analysis of 158 Biopsies in Adults.

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Cervical lymph nodes are the most common site of peripheral lymphadenopathy. The underlying etiologies are usually benign and self-limiting but may include malignancies or other severe life-threatening diseases. The aim of the current study was to investigate the various underlying pathologies of cervical lymphadenopathy as assessed by the diagnostic yield of excisional lymph node biopsies of the neck in a tertiary adult practice. The evaluation was performed in light of previous literature and regional epidemiological patterns.Retrospective analysis of hospital charts of 158 adult patients who underwent an excisional biopsy for suspected cervical lymphadenopathy at a tertiary referral head and neck service between January 2017 and December 2019.The most common underlying pathology was unspecific and/or reactive lymphadenitis in 44.5% of specimens, followed by malignant disease in 38.6% of cases. An age above 40 years was significantly correlated with an increased likelihood of malignant disease. Lower jugular and posterior triangle lymph nodes showed higher malignancy rates than other groups (100% and 66.7%, respectively). The overall surgical complication rate was 2.5%.The results of the current study serve as an indicator of the variety of etiologies causing cervical lymphadenopathy. In particular, given the increasing incidence of malignant diseases in recent decades, the findings should alert physicians to the importance of lymph node biopsy for excluding malignancy in persistent cervical lymphadenopathy especially in older adults. The findings emphasize the value of excisional lymph node biopsy of the neck as a useful diagnostic tool in adult patients with peripheral lymphadenopathy.

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Authors: Mohamed Bassiouni, Gyeongphill Kang, Heidi Olze, Steffen Dommerich, Philipp Arens