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Lymph Node Biopsy: What to Expect at Home

Location of lymph nodes throughout the body, with detail of lymph nodes near the armpit

Your Recovery

A lymph node biopsy removes lymph node tissue. The tissue is then looked at under a microscope. It will be studied for signs of disease, such as cancer, or signs of infection.

At the site where the tissue was removed, you may have:

  • Pain.
  • Tenderness.
  • Bleeding.
  • Bruising.

During the procedure, your doctor may have used a blue dye, a radioactive material, or both. The dye may give your skin a bluish colour for several days after the biopsy. And it may turn your urine green for 1 or 2 days. The radioactive material leaves your body quickly through your urine. The amount of radiation used is very small and won't harm you.

This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to get better as quickly as possible.

How can you care for yourself at home?


  • Rest when you feel tired.
  • If you have an incision (cut) from the procedure, avoid activity or exercise that may put stress on that area.


  • You can eat your normal diet. If your stomach is upset, try bland, low-fat foods like plain rice, broiled chicken, toast, and yogurt.


  • Your doctor will tell you if and when you can restart your medicines. He or she will also give you instructions about taking any new medicines.
  • If you take aspirin or some other blood thinner, be sure to talk to your doctor. He or she will tell you if and when to start taking this medicine again. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
  • Take pain medicines exactly as directed.

Incision care

  • If you have strips of tape on an incision, leave them on until they fall off.


  • When you shower, wash the biopsy area with warm water, and then pat it dry.

Other instructions

  • You might have a mild sore throat if a tube was used to help you breathe during the biopsy. Soothe your sore throat with lozenges, and gargle with warm salt water.
  • Fluid may collect near the biopsy site. And fluid may leak from the biopsy site. Use an ice pack or take an over-the-counter pain medicine to relieve swelling and mild pain.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You have chest pain, are short of breath, or cough up blood.

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have pain that does not get better after you take pain medicine.
  • You are sick to your stomach or can't drink fluids.
  • Bright red blood has soaked through the bandage over your incision.
  • You have symptoms of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the area.
    • Pus draining from the area.
    • A fever.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if you have any problems.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.