Vocabulary for Major Pathology & Diagnostics of the Lymphatic System

Vocabulary for Major Pathology & Diagnostics of the Lymphatic System
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  • 00:00 Lymph
  • 00:38 Lymph Node Enlargement
  • 2:15 Edema and Scintigraphy
  • 3:23 Splenomegaly and Splenorrhagia
  • 4:10 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
This lesson is chock full of terms related to the pathologies of the lymphatic system. From the differences between lymphadenitis, lymphadenopathy, and lymphadenomegaly, to splenorrhagia and more!


You're going to hate the word and prefix 'lymph' by the end of this lesson as its chock full of it. What is lymph, you ask? Lymph is a fluid transported by the lymphatic system and, among other things, it contains white blood cells, which are the guys responsible for protecting your body against foreign invaders like viruses, bacteria, and fungi.

The lymphatic system itself is a collection of organs, tissues, ducts, and vessels that either make or transport lymph. The components of this system can become affected with all sorts of stuff, and that's what we're going to cover.

Lymph Node Enlargement

One super important and very famous part of your lymphatic system is the lymph nodes. Remember the last time you got sick with a cold or flu? Maybe you felt your neck and noticed these large and tender, smooth, oval-shaped things? They were enlarged lymph nodes.

The technical term for the enlargement of the lymph nodes is lymphadenomegaly, where 'lymphaden-' means 'lymph nodes,' and '-megaly' means 'enlargement,' abnormally so. Think: MEGAstore. Although this is the correct term for the enlargement of the lymph nodes, it is not as commonly used in practice.

Inasmuch, the term lymphadenopathy, which technically means a disease of one or more lymph nodes, is often used as a synonym for the abnormal enlargement of the lymph nodes, usually as a result of any disease process. That means everything from an upper respiratory infection to cancer can result in lymphadenopathy. The suffix '-pathy' denotes disease.

Now, keeping all of it straight and in mind, inflammation of the lymph nodes, often as a result of infection, is known as lymphadenitis, where '-itis' means 'inflammation.' The process of inflammation, the body's immune response to the invading pathogen, is actually what causes the tenderness and swelling of these lymph nodes, and this is why the term 'lymphadenitis' is often understood to implicitly mean that the lymph nodes are not only enlarged as per lymphadenopathy but on top of that, painful, perhaps hot to the touch, and even red on the overlying skin.

Edema and Scintigraphy

To add to the confusion of swelling and enlargements involving the lymphatic system is another term: lymphedema, swelling as a result of an abnormal accumulation of lymph within tissues, where '-edema' implies swelling as a result of excessive accumulation of fluid in the tissues.

In lymphedema, it's the soft tissues that are swollen due to something like an obstruction in the lymphatic channels. Sort of like a river will burst its banks if a dam blocks its path, lymph will spill over into soft tissues if its flow is blocked. Again, this is known as lymphedema.

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