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What are SHOTTY nodes?
May 16, 2002

Ahhh yes...another lymph node question. Hopefully this one is a bit different than the others.

I understand the concept behind shotty nodes (i.e. - how they got their name)....but really, what ARE shotty nodes??

How do they present themselves?

So when I check myself for nodes, obviously...if I look hard enough...I can find/feel some. All doctors say that.

I guess I'm wondering how do you tell the difference from "shotty" nodes (perhaps a sign of the body fighting infection?) and simply regular, healthy nodes that simply are part of the body.

HIV status unknown...but concerned that teeny tiny nodes I can find and feel may be a sign that my body is fighting HIV?

What are SHOTTY nodes?

Response from Dr. Dezube

This is an extemely commonly asked question. Although experts disagree as to the derivation of the word SHOTTY, I believe it derives from the word "buck-shot". Shotty nodes are smallish, ill-defined nodes. They are typically less than a centimeter. Most often they represent nothing more than the body's attempt to fight off infection (not just HIV infection, but any infection). These nodes should be differentiated from larger nodes, which are much more well formed. These larger nodes can often repesenation many different disease processes. Note that some doctors refer to SHOTTY nodes as SHODDY nodes; the word shoddy meaning "poorly made". I personally use the phrase SHOTTY.

You do raise an interesting question.. How do you tell the difference between shotty nodes and simply regular, health nodes. You really can't. Shotty nodes, which are a sign of the body fighting an infection, are essentially normal or at least close to normal. There are many parts of the human anatomy which are actually quite normal (e.g. shotty nodes, hemorrhoids, and so on), so normal that they are part of a healthy body. Some physicians will purposely not differentiate shotty nodes from normal nodes. The physicians will lump all such nodes under the heading as "non-pathologic feeling nodes". I will often dictate my notes stating that patients have "generalized lymphadenopathy with no single node feeling pathologic".


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