Histopathology and Computerized Tomography of Human Traumatic Cerebral Swelling

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Any discussion of cerebral edema must begin with a definition of terms. This relates to the question of whether a fundamental distinction can be drawn between cerebral swelling and cerebral edema, or whether these terms simply describe the gross and microscopic picture of what is essentially the same process (1–3). It has been proposed that a gross distinction can be made between swelling and edema. In the former the cut surface of the brain is dry and in the latter wet. Those holding the opposing view argue that this difference is quantitative, i.e. that the wet brain is more edematous than the dry brain. The resolution of this controversy depends upon the definition of the histopathologic basis of cerebral swelling. This has been a contribution of electron microscopy.