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August 16, 1913


Author Affiliations


From the Laboratory of Pathology and Bacteriology, University of Minnesota, College of Medicine and Surgery.

JAMA. 1913;61(7):455-458. doi:10.1001/jama.1913.04350070009003

In 1852 and 1858 cloudy swelling was described by Virchow1 as a condition in which a parenchymatous organ, such as the liver or the kidney, is swollen, more cloudy and of a more doughy consistency. In advanced stages the organ appears as though it had been boiled. Microscopically these gross changes are accompanied by swelling and increased cloudiness of the cells, the cloudiness being due to an increased number of albuminous granules in the cytoplasm. Virchow believed that cloudy swelling is of frequent occurrence and that it may be widely distributed in the body cells.

Virchow's classical description has persisted in the literature practically unmodified up to the present time. The statement is usually made that cloudy swelling is one of the commonest pathologic conditions encountered at necropsy; but notwithstanding the frequent occurrence of this condition and the apparent simplicity of its characteristics, it is probable that there is a