Submit articles to AIPMED Journal:

Submit an article

Cervical Lymphadenopathy in Ibadan, Nigeria

KO Aramide1*, MA Ajani1, CA Okolo2

1Department of Histopathology, Babcock University, Ilishan-Remo, Nigeria. 

2Department of Pathology, University College Hospital Ibadan, Nigeria.


Aim: To determine the pattern and causes of lymph node enlargement of cervical region in Ibadan, Nigeria.

Materials and Methods: A 10-year (2003-2012) retrospective study was conducted on all head and neck lymph node biopsies received at the Department of Pathology, University College Hospital, Ibadan, Nigeria.

Results: A total of 101 lymph node biopsies of cervical region were received within this period of study. 59.4% cases were seen in Males. Second decade of life has the highest number of cases (22.8%) followed by 3rd decade (17.8%). The commonest cause of cervical lymphadenopathy are non -specific hyperplasia, tumour metastasis and Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma were seen in 27 (26.7%), 22(21.8%) and 20(19.8%) respectively. Granulomatous and Hodgkin’s Lymphoma constitute 17(16.8%) and 11 (10.9%) respectively. The granulomatous causes were all due to tuberculosis. A single case of Rosai-Dorfman disease was seen in a male in the 3rd decade of life.

Conclusion: This study shows that metastatic tumours, Hodgkins lymphoma and Non Hodgkins lymphoma all together constituting 52.4% of all cases of cervical lymphadenopathy are common in this environment therefore making it important the need for early and proper evaluation of patients.

Key Words: lymph node, cervical region, metastatic, lymphomas, Ibadan.


Lymphadenopathy is a common clinical finding that may be localized, limited or generalized. The enlargement of a lymph node, due to primary disease or secondary cause, is of concern to both patients and clinicians, particularly, if the underlying pathology is a malignant disease.1 Cervical lymphadenopathy is the commonest form of peripheral lymphadenopathy.2 It has many causes, including benign, infectious and malignant conditions. The evaluation of cervical lymphadenopathy is a common diagnostic challenge facing clinicians. 

Many literatures reported that tuberculosis is the most common cause of cervical lymphadenopathy in sub- Saharan Africa, accounting for 17-66% of cases.1-6 However a previous study from University College Hospital, Ibadan by Thomas et al. reported that 37% are due to normal or non-specific reactive changes, 27.7% showed granulomatous inflammation and 35.5% showed malignancy, lymphoid or metastatic tumours.6 Tuberculosis was the single most common granulomatous inflammatory condition constituting 94.5% of the granulomatous inflammatory lesions. Tuberculosis was also the commonest cause of lymph node enlargement in childhood (0-14 years) while malignant condition was the commonest above forty-five years of age.6

There are many studies on peripheral lymphadenopathy in Nigeria but there is little done on cervical lymphadenopathy as an entity which might make having preformed information on likely causes of cervical lymphadenopathy may pose a difficulty to clinicians.

This study was undertaken to provide a recent update on causes of cervical lymphadenopathy and its common causes in this environment and help clinicians in management of cases of cervical lymphadenopathy.


All cases of lymph node biopsies of cervical region from the files and records of Department of Pathology, University College Hospital Ibadan, Nigeria from 1st January, 2003 to 31st December, 2012 were reviewed. 

The age, sex and clinical diagnosis were retrieved. The relevant slides were retrieved from the archives of the Department of Pathology. Where necessary, new slides were made from formalin fixed, paraffin embedded blocks and stained with haematoxylin and eosin stain. Special stains including Ziehl-Neelsen to demonstrate acid-fast bacilli were used where indicated. Immunohistochemistry was also performed when indicated using the following antibodies: CD 5, CD 10, CD 20, CD 23, CD 15, CD 30, Bcl 2, CD 45, AE1/AE3, S100, NSE, and Vimentin. 

The age ≤ 14 years was classified as children and > 14 years as an adult.

The data obtained was analysed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences, version 20 (SPSS 20) using the student’s t and F tests for continuous variables, while discontinuous variables were analysed using the chi-squared test, with the level of statistical significance set at p < 0.05.

All the cervical lymph node biopsies processed with satisfactory and adequate tissue section within the period of review were included in this study.

All the cases with incomplete data (such as no age, sex) in their request cards and poorly processed biopsies were excluded from this study.


Out of all the 429 lymph node biopsies received during this period 101 (23.5%) were from the cervical region with 60 (59.4%) cases in male and 41(40.6%) cases in female and a male to female ratio of 1.4:1. (Table 1). Seventy-four (73.3%) are adults and 27 (26.7%) are children. (Table 2). 

Non specific hyperplasia (NSH) constituted 27 (26.7%) cases with follicular hyperplasia making up majority of the cases with sinus histocytosis, parafollicular hyperplasia and dermatopathic lymphadenopathy having two cases each. NSH was more in males with a male to female ratio of 2.9:1 and also of higher frequency in the 1st and 2nd decades of life. 

Neoplastic diseases constitute 53 (52.5%) of cases with metastatic tumour making up 41.5% and lymphomas constituting 58.5% of the neoplastic cases. The Non Hodgkin’s lymphomas (NHL) are commoner in males with a male to female ratio of 1.5:1 and the Diffuse large B cell type constitute 70% of cases. The Hodgkin’s lymphoma (HL) has a slightly higher male preponderance with a male to female ratio of 1.2:1 with the Nodular sclerosis variant constituting 63.6% of cases with 4 out of the 7 cases occurring in male. (Table 3). The peak age incidence of NHL is 2nd decade while the HL has two peaks of 1st and 3rd decades of life. 

Metastatic causes are more in males with a male to female ratio of 1.2:1 with an increasing frequency from 2nd decade of life and no case seen in the 1st decade, the commonest cause seen is metastatic adenocarcinoma (NOS) which is more in males followed by metastatic invasive ductal carcinoma of the breast, all in females. Twenty one cases are seen in adult and a single case in a child.

Granulomatous causes constituted 17 (16.8%) of cases, with tuberculosis as the only cause in all the cases, the peak age was in the 2nd and 3rd decades with a decreasing frequency after then and no case seen beyond the 6th decade and non also in the 1st decade of life. 15(88.2%) cases were seen in adults and 2(11.8%) in children. There is a slight female preponderance of male to female ratio of 1:1.1.

Read More


Dr. Kolawole O. Aramide, Department of Histopathology,

Babcock University, Ilishan- Remo, Ogun state, Nigeria.


Tel: +2348033597001