Examination of the supraclavicular lymph nodes

DEFINITION: The supraclavicular lymph nodes are situated in the supraclavicular possa. This is the area just above the clavicles or collar bones.

TEST PROCEDURE: Stand in front or behind the seated patient. With the index and middle fingers feel along the superior and deep borders of the clavicles for the rounded and well defined lymph nodes. When attempting to palpate the supraclavicular lymph nodes, ask the patient to shrug their shoulders to facilitate the procedure. If you cannot find them or palpate them it might mean that these are not enlarged, provided you are doing your procedure correctly of course.

TEST FINDINGS: The supraclavicular lymph nodes drain the lungs and part of the gastric region. Enlarged or tender supraclavicular lymph nodes may signify infections or malignancy in the areas they drain. An enlarged supraclavicular lymph node especially on the left (referred to as Virchow’s node) may signify possible metastasis from a thoracic or abdominal malignancy.