Edema (American English) or oedema (British English; both words from the Greek ), formerly known as dropsy or hydropsy, is an abnormal accumulation of fluid beneath the skin or in one or more cavities of the body. Generally, the amount of interstitial fluid is determined by the balance of fluid homeostasis, and increased secretion of fluid into the interstitium or impaired removal of this fluid may cause edema.
Five factors can contribute to the formation of edema:
- It may be facilitated by increased hydrostatic pressure or,
- reduced oncotic pressure within blood vessels;
- by increased blood vessel wall permeability as in inflammation;
- by obstruction of fluid clearance via the lymphatic; or,
- by changes in the water retaining properties of the tissues themselves. Raised hydrostatic pressure often reflects retention of water and sodium by the kidney
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Last Updated: Feb 1, 2011