The key difference between lymphangitis and lymphadenitis is that lymphangitis is the inflammation of lymphatic channels due to the infection at a site distal to the channel, while lymphadenitis is the enlargement of one or two lymph nodes due to an infection.
The lymphatic system is a network of tissue, vessels, and organs that helps to move a colorless, watery fluid known as lymph back to the circulatory system. It is also a part of the circulatory system and immune system of vertebrates. The main function of this system is immune defense. However, the lymphatic system is sometimes infected by pathogens such as bacteria and viruses. Lymphangitis and lymphadenitis are two medical conditions due to infection of the lymphatic system.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is Lymphangitis
3. What is Lymphadenitis
4. Similarities – Lymphangitis and Lymphadenitis
5. Lymphangitis vs Lymphadenitis in Tabular Form
6. Summary – Lymphangitis vs Lymphadenitis
What is Lymphangitis?
Lymphangitis is the inflammation of the lymphatic system that is caused by an infection. Lymphatic system is a major component of the immune system. The lymphatic system is a network of organs, cells, ducts, and glands. Glands called nodes can also be found throughout the body. The organs that make up the lymphatic system include the tonsils, spleen, and thymus. Generally, the immune cells in the lymphatic systems are called lymphocytes; they mature in the bone marrow and travel to lymph nodes and other organs within the lymphatic system to fight against pathogens. This protects the body from bacteria and viruses. The lymphatic system also filters a clear white fluid called lymph, which contains white blood cells. White blood cells can aid in killing pathogens as well. Lymphangitis occurs when bacteria or viruses enter lymphatic channels through cuts and wounds. The most common infectious causes of lymphangitis are Streptococcal infection and Staphylococcal infection.
The symptoms may include red streaks on the surface of the skin, chills, swollen lymph nodes, fever, malaise, loss of appetite, headache, and muscle aches. This condition can be diagnosed through physical examination, skin biopsy, and blood culture. Moreover, the recommended treatment options are antibiotics, antifungal medications, antiviral medications, pain medications, anti-inflammatory medication, surgery to drain any abscesses, and surgical debridement or removal of a lymph node if it causes obstruction.
Figure 01: Lymphangitis
What is Lymphadenitis?
Lymphadenitis is the enlargement of one or two lymph nodes due to an infection. Lymphadenitis occurs when one or more lymph nodes are infected by pathogens like bacteria, fungi, or viruses. When lymph nodes become infected, they usually increase in size and become tender. This condition is usually because of an infection that started somewhere else in the body. There are two types of lymphadenitis: localized (involves one or two lymph nodes closer to the infection site) and generalized (involves two or more lymph node groups in the whole body). In rare cases, lymph nodes also enlarge due to cancers.
The symptoms may include lymph nodes that increase in size, lymph nodes painful to touch, lymph nodes that are tender, redness of the skin over the nodes, lymph nodes filled with pus, and fluid that drains from the nodes to the skin. The diagnosis can be performed through history and physical examination, blood test, tissue biopsy of nodes, and culturing the lymph nodes’ fluid. Furthermore, the treatments for lymphadenitis may include antibiotics given orally or through injections, antifungal medications, antiviral medications, medicines to control pain and fever, medicines to reduce swelling, and surgery to drain lymph nodes that have filled up with pus.
What are the Similarities Between Lymphangitis and Lymphadenitis?
- Lymphangitis and lymphadenitis are two medical conditions due to the infection of the lymphatic system.
- Lymph nodes are involved in both medical conditions.
- Both medical conditions can be due to infectious pathogens such as bacteria, fungi, and viruses.
- They are easily treatable with medications such as antibiotics, antifungal, or antiviral.
What is the Difference Between Lymphangitis and Lymphadenitis?
Lymphangitis is the inflammation of the lymphatic channels due to the infection at a site distal to the channel, while lymphadenitis is the enlargement of one or two lymph nodes due to an infection. Thus, this is the key difference between lymphangitis and lymphadenitis. Furthermore, lymphangitis is mainly caused due to an infection, while lymphadenitis is usually caused due to an infection or rarely caused due to cancer.
The below infographic presents the differences between lymphangitis and lymphadenitis in tabular form for side by side comparison.
Summary – Lymphangitis vs Lymphadenitis
Lymphangitis and lymphadenitis are two medical conditions that occur due to infection of lymphatic system. Lymph nodes are affected in both medical conditions. Lymphangitis is the inflammation of the lymphatic channels due to the infection at a site distal to the channel, while lymphadenitis is the enlargement of one or two lymph nodes due to an infection. So, this is the key difference between lymphangitis and lymphadenitis.