dropsy

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edema

edema (ĭdēˈmə), abnormal accumulation of fluid in the body tissues or in the body cavities causing swelling or distention of the affected parts. Edema of the ankles and lower legs (in ambulatory patients) is characteristic of congestive heart failure, but it can accompany other conditions, including obesity, diseased leg veins, kidney disease, cirrhosis of the liver, anemia, and severe malnutrition. Edema is the result of venous ulceration, which is often caused by an increase in tissue pressure (increased fluid within the tissue) because of increased capillary permeability. A failing heart is often accompanied by edema because the blood backs up into the veins, venules, and capillaries, thereby increasing blood pressure. In severe cases of heart failure, the abdomen may fill with fluid; this condition is called ascities. Appendage edema is often treated by bandaging the area to relieve pressure on the skin and decrease venous pressure. More severe cases may require a surgical procedure that diverts the blood flow to healthy veins. The accumulation of fluid within the lungs is a serious complication of cardiac failure, pneumonia, and other disorders. The collection of fluid in the pleural space (within the two-layered membrane surrounding the lungs) can be the symptom of numerous infectious and circulatory disorders. Lymphatic obstructions may result from various surgical procedures or from certain parasitic infections. These blockages cause increased back pressure in the lymph vessels and interfere with movement of fluid from interstitial tissue into venule ends of capillaries. The resulting collection of water within the skull is a serious and usually incurable condition (see hydrocephalus). Since edema is a symptom, the underlying cause must be treated.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Dropsy

 

the accumulation of fluid (transudate) in the cavities, tissues, organs, joints, and membranes of the human body owing to intensified transudation of the liquid parts of the blood and lymph at the same time that they are insufficiently reabsorbed by the tissues. Dropsy may be caused by such conditions as cardiovascular diseases, tumors, renal disorders, malnutrition, and some types of poisoning. Dropsy may be local, general, or pseudo. Local dropsy generally develops when the veins in some part of the body become compressed. For example, obstruction or compression of the portal or femoral vein causes abdominal dropsy (ascites) or edema of the lower limb. Compression of the corresponding veins may give rise to thoracic dropsy (hydrothorax), dropsy of the testis (hydrocele), and other types. General dropsy may be caused by certain diseases. Thus, in heart disease, fluid accumulates in the lower parts of the body (cardiac edema). The edemas related to kidney disease, as well as starvation edemas, are formed evenly throughout the subcutaneous tissue (primarily in places with very loose subcutaneous tissue such as the eyelids and scrotum). Edematous skin is pale, smooth, dry, and shiny; in cardiac edemas it is bluish because of venous congestion. Indentations in the skin are produced by finger pressure. Pseudo dropsy is the name of the accumulation of fluid in the glandular or secretory cavities when their efferent ducts are blocked, for example, renal and uterine tube dropsy. Treatment involves the removal of the basic cause of dropsy.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

dropsy

[′dräp·sē]
(medicine)
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

dropsy

Pathol a condition characterized by an accumulation of watery fluid in the tissues or in a body cavity
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005