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(angioneurotic edema, acute circumscribed edema, giant urticaria), the sudden appearance of circumscribed edema of tissues that arises with disturbances of vasculomotor innervation, first studied in detail and described (in 1882) by the German physician H. Quincke.
Quincke’s edema is the body’s reaction to an allergen. Most often the allergens are certain food products (eggs, milk, chocolate) but sometimes the cause seems to be various nonspecific factors, such as chilling or trauma. Genetic and neural-reflexive factors play a significant role in the developmental mechanism of the condition. During the attack leading to the development of the condition, the arterioles and capillaries in the affected area dilate abruptly, vascular permeability increases, and the edema appears. Externally, Quincke’s edema is manifested by the sharply circumscribed edema of certain tissues (mainly the lips, eyelids, and cheeks) and sometimes by cutaneous rashes at the site (usually without itching or pain). The prognosis for Quincke’s edema is generally favorable. Specific and nonspecific desensitization and the use of agents that lower the permeability of the blood vessels are useful in prevention and treatment.