Lymph nodes are a part of the lymphatic system. This system consists of lymph ducts, vessels and certain body organs, such as spleen, tonsils and bone marrow. Normally, the lymph nodes are bean-shaped and their size varies from a few millimeters to 2 centimeters. The blood vessels which carry blood under pressure are permeable. The blood plasma seeps out of them and collects in addition to the fluid from the body tissues in (interstitial) spaces between the tissues of the body.
This colorless fluid is referred to as the lymph. With the blood plasma, pathogens like bacteria and viruses also escape out of the blood stream. The interstitial spaces, that are out of reach of the white blood cells in the blood, could act as safe houses and breeding places for the runaway pathogens. It can lead to several health complications.
Location and Functions of Inguinal Lymph Nodes
Groin or inguinal lymph nodes are divided into two types: the deep inguinal lymph nodes and superficial inguinal lymph nodes. 3-5 of deep inguinal nodes are found along the crease where the upper leg and the lower pelvic area connect. They are located near the femoral vein, situated medially to it and under the cribriform fascia. Of these, the node that sits superior to others and found under the inguinal ligament and is referred to as Cloquet's node. The deep inguinal nodes are also known as femoral lymph nodes. Another group of 10 superficial inguinal lymph nodes, create a triangular formation deep inside human buttocks and right beneath the hip joints.
The lymph, present in the interstitial spaces is collected by the lymph capillaries and ducts and is transported via afferent lymph vessels to the lymph nodes where lymphocytes, cure them of the pathogens. The lymph is drained out of lymph nodes via efferent lymph vessels and is then, let into the cardiovascular system of the body. Lymph nodes located in the groin are tasked with the drainage of inferior extremity of the abdominal wall, posterior perineum, the inferior limbs and genitalia and protect the lower body against disease-causing micro-organisms. The deep inguinal lymph nodes are mainly flushed by the external iliac nodes. During their task, they can swell due to infection or get enlarged due to overwork.
Swollen Inguinal Lymph Nodes
The lymphocytes that are mainly found in the lymphatic system are typed as T cells and B cells. The B cells manufactures a protein that marks pathogens or the abnormal body cells. T cells detect such marked targets and destroys them. Both of these cells act in the same fashion, throughout the lymphatic system. When the immune system comes to know about such an activity in the groin, it sends more troops in the form of lymphocytes, to the aid of those present in the groin. The increased number of the lymphocytes causes swelling of the lymph nodes. They exert pressure on the surrounding nerves and body tissues. Pain results because of the distress suffered by the nerves.
The vulvar cancer is the cancer of the vulva, which can metastasize or spread to the surrounding as well as distant organs. It may also invade lymph nodes in groin. The extent of the spread of vulvar cancer can be detected from the cancer causing cells present in the lymph nodes. Procedures such as biopsy, cystoscopy and protoscopy can be used for further investigations.
The Lymphoma can be classified as Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Hodgkin lymphoma is also cited as Hodgkin's disease. This form of lymphoma is due to malignant B cells. The non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) is caused by the malignant B or T cells. B cells or T cells starts dividing uncontrollably. These malignant cells travel to distant lymph nodes. Uncontrolled division and accumulation of these cells in lymph nodes cause tumor and enlargement. Groin lymph nodes swelling is also found in case of testicular lymphoma.
Leukemia is a cancer of bone and blood that can affect organs in the lymphatic system, such as spleen and bone marrow. Lymphocytes that are most affected by this disease are B cells. Lymphocytic leukemia affects the marrow cells that ultimately develops into B cells. In such a situation, the marrow cells turn malignant, mix with the blood stream and spread to the distant parts of the body. Their aggregation and uncontrolled division in groin lymph nodes can cause enlargement and tumor.
In conditions such as HIV/AIDS, where the immunity of the body is lowered, the chances of infection are high, and so is the risk of groin lymph node swelling. This symptom may also point to disease such as gaucher disease, syphilis, nucleosis, rheumatoid arthritis, etc. In case of enlarged lymph nodes, it is mandatory to take your doctor's opinion. A swollen groin node can indicate the presence of orchitis in males, infection in the lower part of the body or spread of anal cancer. The doctor may advise biopsy and additional tests such as blood test to arrive at a diagnosis and the course of treatment.
As a group, inguinal lymph nodes stand a formidable guard against the infection causing agents affecting, especially, the lower body. There health is an indicator of how well we are doing internally.