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a chronic type of filariasis marked by inflammation and obstruction of the lymphatics and hypertrophy of the skin and subcutaneous tissues, chiefly affecting the lower limbs and external genitals. The disease derives its name from the symptoms, particularly limb swelling, which makes the legs look like those of an elephant. The term is often applied to hypertrophy and thickening of the tissues that result from any cause.

True elephantiasis, or elephantiasis filariensis, is most often caused by a slender threadlike filarial parasite, Wuchereria bancrofti, which enters the lymphatic system, causing an obstruction to drainage. The filaria larvae are transmitted by mosquitoes or flies that carry blood infected with them. Elephantiasis is most often encountered in tropical or subtropical areas such as Central Africa and certain Pacific islands; it is rare or nonexistent in the temperate zone.

The first visible signs are inflammation of the lymph nodes, with temporary swelling in the affected area, red streaks along the leg or arm, pain, and tenderness, attended by chills and fever (elephantoid fever), followed by formation of ulcers and tubercles, with thickening, discoloration, and fissuring of the skin. Specific drugs are administered for destruction of the parasites; bandages and elevation of the affected area help relieve the swelling. Sanitary control to eliminate the carrier insects is the most effective approach to elimination of this disease.
Elephantiasis of the legs and of the scrotum. From Dorland's, 2000.
elephantiasis scro´ti that in which the scrotum is the main seat of the disease. Called also chylocele.
Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health, Seventh Edition. © 2003 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved.

el·e·phan·ti·a·sis scro·ti

(el'ĕ-fan-tī'ă-sis skrō'tī)
Brawny swelling of the scrotum as a result of chronic lymphatic obstruction.
Synonym(s): chyloderma.
Medical Dictionary for the Health Professions and Nursing © Farlex 2012


(ki?lo-der'ma) [? + derma, skin]
Lymph accumulated in the enlarged lymphatic vessels and thickened skin of the scrotum. Synonym: elephantiasis, scrotal
Medical Dictionary, © 2009 Farlex and Partners