Cellular swelling (liver)

Cellular swelling (synonyms : hydropic change, vacuolar degeneration, cellular edema) is an acute reversible change resulting as a response to nonlethal injuries. It is an intracytoplasmic accumulation of water due to incapacity of the cells to maintain the ionic and fluid homeostasis. It is easy to be observed in parenchymal organs : liver (hepatitis, hypoxia), kidney (shock), myocardium (hypoxia, phosphates intoxication). It may be local or diffuse, affecting the whole organ.

Cellular swelling liver

In cellular swelling, at gross examination, the affected organ is enlarged, pale and soft. Microscopically, the cells are enlarged, with a clear cytoplasm (due to the presence of small clear or pale vacuoles, with indistinct shape and limits) and a normal nucleus in central position; blood capillaries are compressed, explaining the organ's pallor.

Last updated : 01/30/2009