Differentiation of benign from malignant superficial lymphadenopathy: the role of high-resolution US

Radiology. 1992 Apr;183(1):215-20. doi: 10.1148/radiology.183.1.1549675.


Ultrasonography has proved a valuable tool for the detection of enlarged lymph nodes; however, differentiation between benign and malignant nodal disease remains a problem. High-frequency probes with improved spatial and contrast resolution display superficial nodes to advantage and also show the internal structure of the nodes. Ninety-four superficial nodes in patients with suspected nodal disease were examined by using 7.5-MHz probes to evaluate longitudinal-transverse diameter ratio (L/T), the central hilus, cortical widening, and size. Histologic diagnosis was obtained after sonographic examination in 73 nodes (five reactive nodes, 35 primary nodal malignancies, and 33 nodal metastases). The remaining 21 nodes regressed after either antibiotic or no therapy. Marked differences were observed among the proportions of benign and malignant nodes in terms of L/T, hilus, and cortex; the latter two structures, however, must be interpreted together. Eccentric cortical widening was seen in only malignant nodes. The distribution of nodal size was not significantly (P greater than .1) different for benign and malignant nodes. No differences were observed between primary and secondary nodal malignancies. The sonographic criteria evaluated in this study assist in the differentiation of benign from malignant superficial lymph nodes.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Leukemia / diagnostic imaging*
  • Lymph Nodes / diagnostic imaging
  • Lymphatic Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Lymphoma / diagnostic imaging*
  • Ultrasonography