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Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

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This is an abnormal accumulation of fluid in the intercellular spaces of the body. It results from disruption to the physiology of capillary or lymphatic exchange by, for example:

  • increased capillary hydrostatic pressure secondary to:
    • an elevation of blood pressure at the arterial end of the capillary
    • an increase in venous pressure at the venous end of the capillary e.g. heart failure
  • an increase in capillary permeability with exudate of intravascular proteins e.g. in acute inflammation
  • decreased intercellular lymphatic drainage

Ultimately, exceedingly elevated intercellular pressures may result in spread of fluid into the next available compartment as in pulmonary oedema and ascites.

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