Lymph node culture is a laboratory test performed on a lymph node to identify microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, and fungi) that cause infection and lymph node swelling.
Culture - lymph node
How the test is performed
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
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 to identify specific cells or microorganisms.
If needle aspiration does not provide a good enough sample, the entire lymph node may be removed and sent for culture and other testing.
How to prepare for the test
There is no special preparation needed for the lab test. For information on how to prepare for the lymph node sample, see
How the test will feel
For information on how the removal of the lymph node sample may feel, see
Why the test is performed
Your doctor may order this test if you have swollen glands and infection is suspected.
Review Date: 12/01/2009
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.