Inguinal Lymph Nodes - Overview
Lymph is a clear fluid which circulates inside the lymphatic system. The lymph flows through the lymph nodes where it is filtrated from all the waste products. Lymph nodes are omnipresent and can be found in each part of the body. They drain the lymph from the specific body parts and according to the body part they are classified into several groups. Inguinal lymph nodes are only one group of lymph nodes.
The inguinal lymph nodes can be classified into the superficial and deep inguinal nodes. The superficial inguinal lymph nodes are located below the inguinal ligament and deep to Camper's fascia. This fascia overlies the femoral vessels. In humans there are approximately 10 lymph nodes. These lymph nodes collect the lymph from integument of the penis, scrotum, perineum, buttock, abdominal wall (bellow the level of umbilicus), vulva, anus, lower extremity, and drain it to the deep inguinal nodes. The deep inguinal lymph nodes lie under the cribriform fascia, a bit medial to the femoral vein. In humans there are 3 to 5 deep inguinal nodes.
Enlargement of Inguinal Lymph Nodes
Enlargement or swelling of the inguinal lymph nodes must be taken seriously since they normally cannot be palpated and swelling of any kind only points to the presence of some underlying medical condition. There are numerous reasons why the inguinal lymph nodes enlarge. Once the patient notices the enlargement he/ she is due to report it to the doctor. The doctor will perform physical examination and certain tests and identify the underlying cause. After definitive diagnosis is set the doctor will choose and suggest the most suitable treatment. In some cases enlargement of the inguinal lymph nodes is found accidentally during examination in other purposes.
The leading cause of inguinal nodes swelling is infection. A variety of infections such as skin infections of the leg and lower abdominal wall, sexually transmitted diseases, bubonic plague and many more are only several causes of inguinal lymph node enlargement. These lymph nodes may be also enlarged in a variety of autoimmune diseases including rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus. And finally, swelling of the inguinal lymph nodes may be related to cancer. Primary cancer of lymph nodes (lymphoma) or spread of the cancer of other organs may lead to enlargement of the inguinal lymph nodes.
No matter what the cause is it is supposed to be identified as soon as possible. This way the specific treatment can start on time and prevent potential complications of the primary disease.