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Edema

Synonym: Dropsy, hydrops
German: Ödem, Wasseransammlung (umgangsspr.)

1 Definition

The term Edema is designated for the build-up of fluids in the vascular system and their accumulation in interstitial space. Clinically, the term "edema" primarily stands for the accumulation of fluids in the subcutis (anasarca) and in certain organs (for instance, lung edema and brain edema).

2 Classification

2.1 According to pathogenesis

  • Protein-poor edema (transudate)
    • Colloid osmotic edema: Missing reabsorption of tissue fluids in the venous thigh of the vascular system through the degradation of oncotic vascular pressure
    • Hydrostatic edema: Enhanced filtration of fluids from the vascular system into the surrounding tissues by the rise of the hydrostatic vascular pressure or the increase in blood volume
    • Mechanical edema: Drainage obstruction of the filtered tissue fluid by the lymph system
  • Protein-rich edema (exudate)
    • Inflammatory edema: Increase of the vascular permeability by inflammation-induced mediator substances.

3 According to localization

  • Generalized edema
  • Regional edema

4 Causes

The potential causes for edema are varied. Among others are:

4.1 Causes for generalized edema

4.2 Causes for regional edema

5 Clinical description

The symptoms caused by edema depend on the affected part of the body and/or organ. Edema of the extremities is primarily noticeable as painless swelllings, which leads to a circumferential augmentation of the affected area and, as the case may be, a feeling of pressure. Mainly visible or palpable edema of the lower extremities is detected by a simple body examination. They are, among others:

6 Special forms of edema

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