Examination of the Neck
Examination of the neck includes inspection for any scars, masses, glandular or nodal enlargement. Inspect the trachea, noting any deviation. Next inspect the thyroid gland as the patient swallows, noting any enlargement.
Evaluate by palpation the lymphatic chains as well as the presence of any masses in the neck. When evaluating lymph nodes for pathology, note their size, shape, consistency, mobility, and tenderness. Note if only one region has enlarged lymph nodes or if all nodes are enlarged. It is easy to mistake a band of muscle for a lymph node just as it is easy to miss abnormally enlarged lymph nodes if a careful exam is not performed. A lymph node can be rolled from side to side and up and down whereas a band of muscle cannot. Palpate the thyroid gland noting size, shape, consistency as well as the presence of any nodules. Detailed examination of the carotid arteries and jugular veins is described in the cardiovascular module.
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