Differentiation of benign and malignant cervical lymph nodes: value of B-mode and color Doppler sonography

Eur J Radiol. 1998 Oct;28(3):230-4. doi: 10.1016/s0720-048x(97)00174-5.


Objective: To evaluate the efficacy of color Doppler sonography in detecting possible differences in blood flow patterns and B-mode sonographic characteristics between malignant and benign cervical lymph nodes.

Patients and methods: During a period of 10 months, the palpable cervical lymph nodes of 39 patients were prospectively evaluated with B-mode and color Doppler sonography. The echogenity, contour, ratio of longitudinal diameter to the transverse diameter and the presence of a hilus were evaluated by B-mode sonography. Capsullary and intranodal arterial flow rates were measured and maximal systolic, end-diastolic, mid-systolic flow velocities with pulsatility, resistivity and acceleration indices were obtained. Final diagnosis was established by excisional biopsy (n:34) and clinical follow-up (n:5).

Results: The lymph nodes in 20 cases were malignant and in 19 cases were benign. The B-mode contour characteristics and presence of a hilus in malignant and benign lymph nodes were statistically significant (P < 0.05), but there were no significant differences between the ratio of longitudinal diameter to the transverse diameter (P > 0.05), echogenity (P > 0.05) and the diameters of lymph nodes (P > 0.05). Flow patterns were obtained in 14 malignant (70%) and 10 benign (52.6%) cases. The maximal systolic, end diastolic, mid-systolic flow velocities and pulsatility, resistivity, acceleration indices did not differ statistically (P > 0.05).

Conclusion: In the differentiations of benign and malignant cervical lymph nodes, the B-mode and color Doppler sonography are limited methods and can not replace biopsy.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lymph Nodes / blood supply
  • Lymph Nodes / diagnostic imaging*
  • Lymphatic Metastasis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neck
  • Prospective Studies
  • Regional Blood Flow
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler, Color*