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April 1978

Lymphadenopathy: A Diagnostic Enigma

Author Affiliations

Jacksonville Health Education Programs Division of the Health Center University of Florida 1661 Riverside Ave Jacksonville, FL 32204

Am J Dis Child. 1978;132(4):353-354. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1978.02120290025001

Only the artist, not the fool discovers that which nature hides.


The British call them lymph glands and have referred to them as "dust bins." In America, recognizing that they do not qualify as glands, we call them lymph nodes and might refer to them as the garbage cans of the body. The study of their role in immunology has provoked a voluminous mass of scientific papers and the explanation of their role in human physiology remains incomplete.

At an early stage in his medical education, the student, pursuing the study of physical diagnosis, learns that lymph nodes should be palpated routinely. He is taught to consider the size, mobility, tenderness, and temperature of occipital, auricular, cervical, submaxillary, axillary, epitrochlear, and inguinal lymph nodes. He learns also that shotty, discrete, movable, cool, nontender nodes as large as 3 mm in diameter are normal in these areas and that those