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MMW Fortschr Med. 2004 Apr 15;146(16):39-41.

[Differential diagnosis of leg edema].

[Article in German]

Author information

  • 1Gotthard-Schettler-Klinik, Fach- und Rehabilitationsklinik für Kardiologie und Angiologie, Bad Schönborn.


Both generalized and localized edema needs to be submitted to a differential diagnostic investigation. In the case of edema affecting the lower extremities, in particular the Stemmer sign which is the inability to tent the skin at the dorsum of the toes is a useful distinguishing aid. If there is acute unilateral swelling of a leg, other processes with diffuse space-consuming processes need to be distinguished from deep venous thrombosis and secondary lymphedema. Chronic bilateral leg edema is usually due to a venous flowoff obstruction (stasis edema). Less commonly, lipedema or a primary lymphedema may be responsible for the swelling.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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