July 29, 2016
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Edema (cont.)

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What is pitting edema and how does it differ from non-pitting edema?

Pitting edema can be demonstrated by applying pressure to the swollen area by depressing the skin with a finger. If the pressing causes an indentation that persists for some time after the release of the pressure, the edema is referred to as pitting edema. Any form of pressure, such as from the elastic in socks, can induce pitting with this type of edema. This type of edema may be normal depending on the severity. Almost everyone who wears socks all day will have mild pitting edema by the end of the day.

What is a pitting edema measurement scale?

Some doctors may use a scale to determine the severity of the pitting edema. These scales are subjective based on either how deep the pitting is, or how long the pitting persists.

Following are two examples of edema measurement using 4-point scales, with 1 point being minor edema, to 4 points being severe edema.

Pitting Edema Measurement Scales
  S.B. O'Sullivan and T.J. Schmitz
Physical rehabilitation: assessment and treatment
M. Hogan
Medical-Surgical Nursing
1+ Barely detectable impression when finger is pressed into skin. 2mm depression, barely detectable. Immediate rebound.
2+ Slight indentation. 15 seconds to rebound 4mm deep pit. A few seconds to rebound.
3+ Deeper indentation. 30 seconds to rebound. 6mm deep pit. 10-12 seconds to rebound.
4+ > 30 seconds to rebound. 8mm: very deep pit. > 20 seconds to rebound.

In non-pitting edema, which usually affects the legs or arms, pressure applied to the skin does not result in a persistent indentation. Non-pitting edema can occur in certain disorders of the lymphatic system such as lymphedema, which is a disturbance of the lymphatic circulation that may occur after a mastectomy, lymph node surgery, radiation therapy, morbid obesity, venous insufficiency, or be present from birth (congenitally).

Another cause of non-pitting let edema is called pretibial myxedema, which is a swelling over the shin that occurs in some people with hypothyroidism. Non-pitting leg edema is difficult to treat. Diuretic medications are generally not effective, although elevation of the legs periodically during the day and compressive devices may reduce the swelling.

The focus of the rest of this article is on pitting edema, as it is the most common form of edema.

What does pitting edema look like (picture)?

Picture of Pitting Edema
Picture of Pitting Edema
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/26/2016

Source: MedicineNet.com
http://www.medicinenet.com/edema/article.htm

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