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Elephantiasis - Definition


Elephantiasis means the increase in size of a part of the body caused by edema or swelling. This edema appears as a result of an evacuation of the lymph from the lymphatic system into the interstitial tissue. A tumor, an infection, or a malformation can put pressure on or injure a lymphatic vessel and cause this symptom. The treatment of the cause, if it is available, generally allows the regression of elephantiasis. It differs from the elephantiasis in Arabic or tropical countries, known as lymphatic filariasis, a disease that can affect all the subcutaneous tissue of the body. It is due to a problem with the circulation of lymph, a side-effect of a parasitic infection in the network of blood vessels. This parasitic infection is transmitted by a mosquito bite and the swelling of the limbs can reach several times the normal size.