Lymph nodes - not lymphoma
Inclusions, pigment, ectopic cells or tissue
Adipose tissue metaplasia

Topic Completed: 1 January 2014

Minor changes: 7 April 2020

Revised: 1 February 2019, last major update January 2014

Copyright: 2003-2020,, Inc.

PubMed Search: Adipose tissue metaplasia

Jayalakshmi Balakrishna, M.D.
Abdelsalam Sharabi, M.D.
Page views in 2019: 4,819
Page views in 2020 to date: 1,423
Cite this page: Balakrishna J. Adipose tissue metaplasia. website. Accessed June 1st, 2020.
Definition / general
  • Pathological enlargement of lymph nodes caused by abnormal accumulation of fat, due to mature, benign adipocytes within lymph node capsules
  • Lipo-lymph nodes
  • Lipoplastic lymphadenopathy
  • Very common
  • Most commonly involved sites are external iliac and obturator groups
  • Accumulation of abnormal quantities of fat within lymph nodes in excess of normal aging changes
  • Benign process with good prognosis
  • Can cause mass effect depending on size
  • May mimic lymphoma or other neoplasms
  • Unknown; postulated causes include exaggeration of normal fat deposition with aging, previous abdominal inflammatory disease, obesity
Clinical features
  • Enlarged lymph nodes; may lead to formation of large masses up to 10 cm
  • Lymph node biopsy
Radiology description
  • Progressive enlargement and increased fatty infiltration
  • CAT scan and lymphangiography findings can be misleading towards neoplastic process
Case reports
  • Excision of involved lymph node in symptomatic cases serves both diagnostic and therapeutic purposes
Clinical images

Images hosted on other servers:
Missing Image

Progressively enlarging lymph node

Missing Image

Largest intra-abdominal adenopathy

Gross description
  • Enlarged lymph node with soft greasy yellow areas within capsule, or entirely replaced by similar cut surfaces
Gross images

Images hosted on other servers:
Missing Image

Lymph node replaced by adipose tissue

Microscopic (histologic) description
  • Benign mature adipocytes populate nodes whose capsules are thinly attenuated with fine vascular trabeculae dividing fat deposits
Microscopic (histologic) images
Missing Image


Images hosted on other servers:
Missing Image

Benign fibroadipose tissue

Missing Image Missing Image

Lymphoid tissue closely admixed with adipocytes

Missing Image

Lymph node with adipocytes within capsule

Differential diagnosis
Back to top