Test for Edema

To test for pitting edema, the examiner presses his or her fingers into a dependent area, such as the patient's shin, for 2 to 3 seconds. If pitting edema is present, the fingers sink into the tissue,

Figure 14-33 Technique for testing for pitting edema. A, The examiner presses into the patient's shin area. B, When pitting edema is present, indentation occurs after the fingers are lifted.

and when the fingers are removed, the impression of the fingers remains. This technique is demonstrated in Figure 14-33.

Pitting edema is usually quantified from 1+ to 4+, depending on how long the indentation persists. The most noticeable is 4+. In patients who are bedridden, the dependent area is usually the sacrum and not the shins. The examiner should evaluate for edema over the sacrum in these patients. Figure 14-34 illustrates 4+ sacral edema in a bedridden patient.

Figure 14-34 Technique for testing for pitting edema over the sacrum. A, The examiner presses into the sacrum of a bedridden patient. B, The pitting edema is evident.
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