It is by the action of the absorbent system that many-noxious materials are introduced into the habit; as the matter of the small pox, the lues venerea, the miasmata of fevers: and it is also by their means that mercury rubbed externally is received into the constitution, and produces similar effects on the interior parts. See For-dyce's Elements, part 1st. Dr. Hunter's Commentaries. Monro's Description of the Human Lacteal Sac and Duct. Hewson's experimental Inquiries into the Lymphatic System. Sheldon's History of the Absorb System. Mascagni Historia.

The diseases of the lymphatics are not numerous. They are undoubtedly irritable, and in an inflamed state, at least, acutely sensible; but they never seem to be affected with inflammation from any cause but the acrimony of their contents. In hydrophobia, in lues venerea, and similar complaints, a hard, tender cord may be often traced from the wound previous to the inflammation of the gland. On the other hand, they seem sometimes deficient in irritability; a circumstance on which Scrofula, ride in verbo, apparently depends.

Amongst these disorders, however, Mr. White properly places the depot laiteux sur la cuisse of Puzos; ischias a spargonosioi Sauvages. Most writers have attributed this complaint to a redundancy of milk, and it hence has been often called aedema lacteum; by others phlegmatia dolens; but it might be more appropriately denominated ecchymoma lymphatica. Mr. White describes this disorder more accurately than any other writer, and is the first author who escaped from the trammels of the former doctrine. In about twelve or fifteen days after delivery, he observes, the patient is seized with a great pain in the groin of one side, accompanied with a considerable degree of fever, seldom preceded by a shivering fit and cold rigor. This part soon becomes affected with swelling and tension, which extend to the labia pudendi of the same side only, and down the inside of the thigh, to the ham, the leg, the foot, and the whole limb: the progress of the swelling is so quick, that in a day or two the limb becomes twice the size of the other, and is moved with great difficulty; is hot and exquisitely tender, but without external inflammation. The pain in the groin is generally preceded by a pain in the small of the back, sometimes by a pain at the bottom of the belly, on the same side; and the parts which suffer the most pain are the groin, the ham, and the back part of the leg, about its middle. The pain indeed extends over the whole limb, owing to the sudden distention; but in a day or two it becomes less considerable. It is very hard, smooth, shining, pale, and equable, except where the conglobate glands are situated, which in some cases are knotty and hard, as in the groin, the ham, and about the middle of the leg, at its back part; neither pitting on pressure, nor discharging water when punctured. This disorder generally comes on about the second or third week after delivery; but in one instance it occurred to Mr. White so early as twenty-four hours after delivery, and in another so late .as five weeks; but each is uncommon. The first parts that begin to mend, both as to pain and swelling, are the groin, and the affected labium; the thigh next subsides, and lastly the leg. The fever, which is apparently hectic, in some patients declines in two or three weeks, in others it continues six or eight. It sometimes, though rarely, attacks both the extremities. After the disorder has subsided, it is not uncommon for the sound leg to swell towards evening, and become oedematous; but the groin and thigh of that side are not affected; the leg is much softer than the other, and pits when pressed.

It attacks women of all ranks, and of different habits, and is not influenced by the discharge of the lochia, suckling, the nature and duration of the labour, or the mode of delivery, but rather attacks the side on which they lay during labour. The healthy and the diseased; the strong and the weak; the lean and the corpulent; the sedentary and the active; the young and the middle aged, equally suffer; but it seldom happens after a miscarriage, nor to a woman more than once, though she has afterwards more children. It occurs at all seasons and situations; but neither attacks the arms, nor other parts of the body; never suppurates, nor proves fatal.

The period of the attack, and the elasticity of the swelling, distinguish it from every other disease; and Mr. White supposes it to arise from the child's head pressing the lymphatic vessels, which arise from one of the lower extremities, against the brim of the pelvis, during a labour pain, so as to stop the progress of the lymph, and produce a rupture with a consequent effusion. The extravasation in some habits is re-absorbed readily, in others with difficulty; and by lying out of the course of its circulation, it will press against the uterus and bladder, and occasion forcing pains, and even suppressions of urine. When the orifice made in the ruptured vessel is healed, and the diameter of the tube is contracted or closed, the lymph is retained in the lymphatics, distending the glands of the limb and parts around, and the swelling always begins in that part next to which the obstruction is formed. When the obstruction is in part or wholly removed, or the lymph has found a fresh passage, the part next to it is consequently first relieved. This opinion has been opposed by different authors. Mr. Trye, in his work, published in 1792, considered the disease as owing to an inflammation of the lymphatic gland; Dr. Ferriar, in the third volume of his Medical Histories (1798), thinks its cause an inflammation of the lymphatics of the side affected. Dr. Hall, in an essay on this disease, which he styles phlegmatia dolens, published in 1800, supposes it to arise from inflammation and an effusion of coagulable lymph.

We strongly suspect that the nature of the disease is not understood. The fever is apparently idiopathic, and the swelling seems to be a critical deposition, not of pus or of water, but of coagulable lymph. Were Mr. White's opinion correct, it should always appear within a few days, and the fever should be the consequence of obstruction. Were Mr. Trye in the right, the gland should first inflame; and was Dr. Ferriar'b system true, pain should be previously felt in the course of the lymphatics. Dr. Hall seems to approach nearer the fact; but the nature of the fever, and the circumstances which influence the deposition, are obscure. Milky depositions, as they have been called, are not uncommon after delivery, particularly in the peritonaeum in the peritonitis puerperarum, and other parts; but these are, perhaps, rather depositions of gluten than of milk, or are observable when the milk is checked. In this case the disease is not connected with the suppression of milk; and the only use we can make of the fact is, to show that in such cases the effusion of gluten is not uncommon. If, from fever, such effusion should take place in the legs, we know that, from its density, it cannot be readily absorbed; and it is probable, also, that the lymphatics, by the pressure which usually occasions oedematous swellings in the latter months, may be weakened, so as to be still less equal to the conveyance of the glutinous lymph to the thoracic duct. The circumstances of the delivery, or of the position of the child in utero,may have an effect of determining to one side rather than another.