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"What is an ill defined node?"

ZocdocAnswersWhat is an ill defined node?


After an accident, I had an x-ray which showed an 'ill defined' node on my lung. What does this mean? What kind of tests should we be doing now? I'm a healthy young guy.


This is an example of medical terminology that can be confusing to patients. An ill defined node is a term to describe a lymph node that is difficult to see with which ever imaging is being used. On a chest x-ray, lymph nodes are very difficult to see unless they are very large and thus, an ill defined node is meaningless until you get more detailed imaging such as a chest CT scan. A lymph node is a small area of the body where certain immune cells reside and monitor areas of the body for infection. You can think of them as the body's police headquarters where the cells that are involved in surveillance for abnormalities and infections hang out. Lymph nodes enlarge and can become visible on x-rays when they are actively fighting an infection, or if they are harboring abnormal cells such as cancer cells. If it was just a simple x-ray that you had, there is no way to tell what the abnormality was for sure. I suggest that you schedule an appointment with a primary care physician such as an internist. He or she will be able to take a detailed medical history for you and perform a thorough physical exam. The results of this can be put into the context of the results of x-ray and a decision on further evaluation (if needed) can be made. Good luck.

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