The Symptoms of Hydrothorax or Dropsy Of The Chest

Great difficulty in breathing, or shortness of breath, especially on slight exertion; dullness on percussion of the lower part of the chest.

Dropsy of the chest, or, as the disease is generally termed in popular phraseology, "water on the chest," is rarely a primary disease, generally occurring in connection with general dropsy, resulting from disease of the heart or kidneys.

The Treatment of Hydrothorax or Dropsy Of The Chest

Measures of treatment should be directed toward the primary disease of which this affection is simply a result. These measures, which are more fully described elsewhere, consist chiefly in such remedies as will excite great activity of the skin, as vapor and hot-air baths. In case general measures are not sufficient to cause absorption of the fluid, tapping or aspiration of the chest may become necessary. Fig. 314 represents one of the best forms of apparatus for performing aspiration, which is much to be preferred to the old operation of tapping. In using this instrument, the chest is punctured with a fine needle which is hollow and is connected with a flexible tube, which is, in turn, connected with the cylinder of an air-pump. By the creation of a vacuum, a strong suction force is exerted, which produces a steady flow of fluid through the needle into the instrument, from which, by reverse action, it is expelled into a convenient vessel. Several simple forms of this apparatus have been devised. The simplest of all is the ordinary Davison's syringe. On one occasion, when our aspirator was accidentally broken by an assistant just as we were about beginning an operation upon a patient whose left lung cavity was almost completely filled with pus, we performed the operation by means of the Davison's syringe, as suggested by our old teacher, Prof. Austin Flint, Sen., of Bellevue Hospital, by whom this ingenious method was first employed. In the case referred to, we removed several quarts of green pus which had been confined within the chest for more than a year. The relief afforded the patient by removal of the fluid is generally very great, though at first severe coughing is produced by expansion of the partially collapsed lung. Unfortunately, complete recovery rarely takes place, owing to the obstinate character of the disease upon which this affection depends.

Fig. 314. Aspirator.

Fig. 314. Aspirator.