Vni39 Dropsy

The historical diagnosis of dropsy-which is now obsolete - indicated simply an abnormal accumulation of fluid; the word derives from the Greek hydrops (water). Alternative or supplementary terms included hydrothorax (fluid in the chest cavity), ascites (which still indicates excess free fluid in the abdominal cavity), anasarca (still used to describe generalized edema throughout the body), hydrocephalus (used until the nineteenth century to indicate excess fluid within the skull), and ovarian dropsy (large ovarian cysts filled with fluid). Edema was often a synonym for dropsy, but it now has additional connotations, and pulmonary edema has been differentiated from hydrothorax. Since the mid-nineteenth century, dropsy has been recognized as a sign of underlying disease of the heart, liver, or kidneys, or of malnutrition. Untreated dropsy was, eventually, always fatal.

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