FINAL CONTENT TO COME (this section)
The term edema refers to the accumulation of an excessive amount of fluid in cells, tissues, or organs and is clinically characterized by swelling. A variety of conditions can produce edema including chronic venous insufficiency, infection, and trauma. Lymphedema is a progressive condition that occurs when the lymphatic transport system falls below the capacity needed to handle the fluids that normally leak from the blood vessels into the lymph system. The accumulation of fluids leads to the swelling of subcutaneous tissue as a result of obstruction of lymphatic vessels or lymph nodes. Any disease process that interferes with or disrupts the normal mechanical process by which the lymphatic system collects, filters, and returns lymph fluid back into the circulatory system can result in excessive accumulation of lymph fluid in the area affected by the blockage. Since the arterial capillaries continue to function normally and deliver fluid to the tissue, the volume of fluid increases significantly until the venous capillaries are no longer able to compensate for the defective lymph vessels. At the point where drainage has been reduced by 80% or more, symptoms of lymphedema become apparent.