Pathologies of the axillary lymph nodes

NAME OF CONDITION: Pathology of the axillary lymph nodes (lymphadenopathy)

DEFINITION: Axillary lymphadenopathy is a general term implying a pathology or abnormality affecting the axillary lymph nodes.

CAUSES: The axillary lymph nodes are arranged in various groups and are located around and inside the axilla or armpit. They drain the external thoracic wall, the breasts and the upper arm. They are therefore important in the females. Pathologies such as infections or malignancies (cancer) may involve some of these groups of lymph nodes at some stage of the disease progression.

EXAMINATION: Ask the patient to abduct (raise) their arms. Palpates the superficial lymph nodes located under the subcutaneous tissues with the palps of your fingertips applied flat or obliquely against the patients skin starting for the lateral pectoral region and progress to cover the area inside the axilla and then as far back as the lateral axillary margin and the medial brachial regions. Then place your cupped fingertips high up inside the axilla against the chest wall. Then ask the patient to lower their arm. Gently drag your fingers down against the chest wall and you should be able to feel the central or apical lymph nodes rolling from under your fingertips