Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/679

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A CHAPTER IN TRANSCENDENTAL PATHOLOGY.

is a general assertion that holds good of inflammation in every part of the body, that from the first stage to the last it tends to blend and confuse together, to destroy the distinctive features of the individual structures of the part affected. In the beginning we have infiltration with leucocytes, replacing with cells of indefinite type the muscular, nervous, fibrous, and other naturally well-defined elements of the part affected. Finally, we have every trace of the latter lost; the definiteness of structure, its coherence and heterogeneity have gone, and we have in place simply a collection of fluid homogeneous pus. The progress is clearly from the definite, the coherent, and the heterogeneous, to the indefinite, the incoherent, and the homogeneous. The last part of the definition asserts that the retained motion undergoes a like transformation. This we have partly touched on already. The healthy body contains structures which absorb, transform, and give out force—that is, motion—in different ways. By the intestinal canal, force stored up by plants and animals is taken into the body. By the lymphatic and vascular system it is transferred from the place where it is taken in to the place where it is wanted for use. By the nervous, muscular, and glandular apparatus it is converted into sensible motion of the organism as a whole, or into secretions capable of setting up various changes in the substances with which they come in contact, or of producing and nourishing a new being. We have, therefore, in the normal organism, motion given out in many heterogeneous forms, each form being definite, and each so related to the activity of the rest that the body forms a whole as coherent in function as it is in structure. When inflammation affects a part, these features of its dynamic activity disappear. Natural function is either lost, or performed only in an imperfect way. In place of the exertion of force in ways heterogeneous, but definite, we have the homogeneous molecular motion manifested by liquefaction, swelling, and warmth. Definiteness of function, as of structure, is lost; heterogeneity of tissue changes, as of the tissues themselves, is altered to homogeneity; and in place of the part fulfilling its function to the advantage of every other part, that is, in a manner coherent with functional activity elsewhere, it exercises only a perturbing, injurious effect—its functional activity has become incoherent instead of coherent.

The subject is a very large one; and in the space that we are able to give to it we can not do more than imperfectly indicate the analogies which inflammatory changes bear to those of dissolution generally. If our remarks should incite others to follow up the subject in a more exact and comprehensive manner, our object in making them will have been amply fulfilled.—Medical Times and Gazette.