(From through, and flesh,) called also catasarca,episarcialiam, intercus. Pituitaalba, hyposarca, hyposarcidies, veternum hyderos, Galeni phlegmatia, phlegmatitia. A species of dropsy from a serous humour between the skin and flesh; or rather a general accumulation of lymph in the cellular system. It occurs in the class cachexia and order intu-mescentix of Cullen, and he enumerates the following species, viz.
1. Anasarca serosa, from serum, retained on account of the suppression of some accustomary evacuations; or from an increase of serum from too much water thrown into the habit, from too large a proportion of neutral salts.
2. Anasarca oppii.ata, when the veins are considerably pressed, which happens to many pregnant women, etc.
3.. Anasarca exanthematica, after eruptive disorders, and particularly after the erysipelas.
4. Anasarca anaemia, when the blood is rendered extremely poor from considerable losses of it.
5. Anasa Rca debilium, in weak constitutions.
An oedema, in any part, hath the same appearance as the anasarca, but it is partial; a leucophlegmatia is general; and an anasarca is the worst state of the leucophlegmatia.
Its seat is the cellular membrane; if only one limb, or a particular part, hath its cellular membrane filled, it is called an (edematous swelling.
It is known by the sight and the touch; the skin of the part is considerably swelled, its colour is paler, and upon pressing it deeply with a finger the impression remains some time: if the belly is affected, the navel appears to be sunk in, and in a morning the eye-lids, or the whole face, appear fuller than in the latter part of the day.
The occasional causes are, scirrhous glands, cachexy, suppression of periodical evacuations, and every cause that will impoverish the blood and debilitate the system. The more immediate causes are, a defect of red globules in the blood, an increased action of the exhalant arteries, or a want of power in the absorbent vessels into the cellular membrane.
Persons recovering from lingering diseases are very subject to this complaint, particularly if they replenish their weak vessels too fast by full diet. Exposure to cold and damp air, particularly in the night, from the check it gives to the natural discharge by the skin, late hours, too tight ligatures on the legs, scirrhosities and obstructions in the liver or other viscera, dispose to and produce either general or partial anasarca. For the cure of this complaint see Dropsy.
Scarifications with a knife are much commended when the legs and thighs are turgid with extravasated serum; and, indeed, the water is speedily discharged this way; but the lips of the wound will close in two days, so as to admit of no discharge; and from a defect of heat in the constitution, the part is apt to mortify. To obviate these difficulties, Dr. Fothergill advises this operation to be performed with the common scarificator used in cupping, and the instrument to be placed so as to make the wounds transversely: if the skin is thick, the lancet may be so set as to make deeper, and consequently wider, incisions: thus a large quantity of water will often drain from the legs or thighs without risk of inflammation, or deterring the patient from a repetition, if necessary. The punctures must be made in the most depending part of the leg; and their number and repetition depend on the circumstances of each individual case. The application of glasses, either before or after scarifying, is unnecessary; but the instrument must be gently pressed upon the skin, until a surface is formed sufficiently flat to admit the lancets in the scarificator to act equally. In all cases where the skin is so stretched as to threaten inflammation, rupture, or a gangrene, and when the breath is greatly impeded, these openings should be made without delay. Blisters are often employed in the same circumstances instead of scarifications, and are equally useful. In some respects they are of superior utility, as the discharge can be continued for a longer period, and the increased surface admits of the evacuation of a larger quantity of fluid. An oblong blister may be applied just above the inner ancle, and continued till a thick white or purulent discharge is produced. After this period but little water appears, and the sore should be healed. If necessary to be longer continued, blisters may be employed on the outside; and, when these have acted sufficiently, we may return to the former surface, which will be now healed. Apprehensions have been entertained of gangrene following the application of blisters in this way. No such inconvenience has, however, occurred to us in a long practice; and should a little black spot appear, a warm antiseptic fomentation, and sprinkling the spot with the powder of myrrh or of oak bark, has always separated it. We must add, that not only in this, but every species of dropsy attempted to be cured by internal means, however they may be relieved by different evacuations, unless the urinary organs continue their evacuating power, the cure will never be lasting. See Lond. Med. Obs. and Inq. vol. iv. p. 120, 122. Dr. Leake's Medical Instructions, edit. v. Cullen's First Lines, vol. iv. edit. iv. Le Dran's Operations, edit. ii. p. 113 - 116. The London Practice of Physic, edit. v. Bell's Surgery, v. 499. Wallis's Sydenham on the Dropsy.