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Obscure features and some new cures of elephantiasis of the legs have been discovered by a group of Harvard scientists, according to an article by Stanley C. Salmon '36, published in the current Alumni Bulletin. The disease has been the subject of study for many years, he writes, and the cause (tropical infection) was fairly well known. However, in the field of the effects of the non-tropical disease the work of the Harvard savants was of the most value.
John Homans, clinical professor of Surgery at the Medical School, and Cecil K. Drinker, Dean of the School of Public Health, were named by Salmen as conducting the research. Their findings he reports as follows:
"Various incidental findings proved to have considerable clinical importance. The behavior of certain dyes in the tissues showed that, once the lymphatics had been destroyed, the fluids formerly carried off by them circulated purely by gravity, passing from the legs to the abdominal region, whence it was carried to parts of the body whose lymphatics were intact. (A lymphatic is a vessel which carries the watery tissue fluids into the blood stream.) One woman who came to Dr. Homans for treatment was sent home and told to keep her leg elevated for one week. At the end of that time she had lost forty pounds--approximately five gallons--and her leg was much reduced.
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