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Typically, chronic inflammation is characterised by absence or modification of the cardinal signs of acute inflammation:

  • heat and redness of the area are relatively reduced
  • pain is duller
  • function may be partially or fully restored
  • swelling is often present; its underlying basis is different to the changes in vascular permeability which occur in acute inflammation - it is more likely to be due to cellular infiltrate and tissue deposition
  • fever may be low-grade or cyclical

Investigations are dependent on the underlying aetiology, but common findings include:

  • low-grade acute phase response
  • FBC: leukocytosis to a lesser extent than acute inflammation, mononuclear cells predominate

Last reviewed 01/2018

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