Glossary of Terms

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CELLULITIS - a diffuse area of acute inflammation due to bacterial infection, presenting as a hot, red area of the skin in the part of the body affected by lymphoedema.  It is often accompanied by 'flu-like' symptoms with raised temperature.

FIBROUS - used to describe the thickened hardened tissue, which can occur in lymphoedematous areas as a result of chronic inflammation.

FIBROSIS - this is the reactive or reparative process of the laying down of fibrous tissue in areas of lymphoedema due to chronic inflammation.  This results in a change from soft pliable tissue into tissue, which becomes indurated and hardened.  

LYMPH - is a colourless fluid, consisting of proteins, water, fat, various cells, waste products and other foreign substances, which is formed by the filtration of fluid through the blood capillaries into the tissue spaces, and which is transported in the lymphatic vessels back to the venous blood circulation system. 

LYMPHATIC SYSTEM - consists of lymph vessels and lymphatic organs.

LYMPHATIC TISSUE - consists of organs (spleen, thymus,tonsils, lymph nodes), lymph vessels and collections of mucosal associated lymphoid tissue or follicles, for example the tonsils in the pharynx, and Peyers patches in the ileum.  

LYMPHOEDEMA - an abnormal accumulation of lymph fluid due to a failure of the lymphatic system.

LYMPH NODES (glands) - range in size from 0.2 cm to 3 cm in size (in adults) and are situated along the course of lymphatics.  Lymph nodes have many functions.  They serve as biological filtering stations, produce cells, which fight infection and help regulate the protein content of lymph.

LYMPH VESSELS - carry lymph from tissues to veins, often draining through lymph nodes (glands).  They are as widely distributed as the blood vessels throughout the body.