Bauhaus-Universität Weimar

kind. The true interstitial absorption of organised tissues, in which 
the particles of the tissue which fill the meshes of the capillary net¬ 
work are removed, must be distinguished from the cases of the ab¬ 
sorption of fluids, which do not form part of the tissue, and have 
therefore no mutual vital action with the blood-vessels. In the 
process of interstitial absorption, as it occurs in the atrophy of the 
tail of the tadpole, and of the pupillary membrane in the foetus, and 
in the development of cells in the bones, the most essential circum¬ 
stance, perhaps, seem to be a solution of the particles which occupy 
the meshes of the capillary system. The matter when dissolved may 
be removed by imbibition into the currents of blood, or, except in 
the case of the bones, by absorption by the lymphatics. Of all 
organised parts, the bones present the phenomena of interstitial 
absorption in the most remarkable degree; their cells are developed 
in the child long after the bone is formed, and increase in size by the 
agency of the same process. The diploe of the cranial bones dis¬ 
appears in old age, and the bones become thinner. The frontal and 
sphenoidal sinuses are developed in the period of youth. Parts, 
however, which are not organised, or rather not vascular, but are 
only in connection with an organised matrix,—for example, the 
roots of the teeth,—are also subject to absorption. The roots of the 
first teeth disappear at the time of the change of the teeth; and 
Soemmering* has observed that they become soft, probably in conse¬ 
quence of solution of their component matter. In caries, also, which 
depends on an abnormal combination of their components, the teeth 
are acted on by the fluid of the mouth and softened. It is still un¬ 
known whether portions of dead bone which remain long in contact 
with living textures, diminish in size.t 
When, in consequence of diseased states of the blood, of paralysis, 
or other causes, nutrition is less active, the interstitial absorption is 
no longer counterbalanced, and the part wastes. Whether in phthisis 
the muscular fibres themselves waste, or merely the cellular mem¬ 
brane in their interstices, is uncertain; thin muscles, however, such 
as the platysma myoides, and some muscles of the external ear, 
seem really to waste. In paralysis the wasting of the muscles is 
more frequent; and Schroeder van der Kolk has even observed their 
conversion into fat. Cartilage, bone, brain, and nerves, according 
to Desmoulin’s and Schroeder’s researches, do not waste in phthisis. 
When the cause of atrophy is general, the tissues are absorbed in 
the following order; fat, cellular tissues, muscles, bone, cartilage, and 
tendon. Long-cofitinued pressure, by putting a stop to nutrition, 
may cause every tissue to be absorbed. The mode in which pressure 
acts in causing the absorption of bone, is, however, a problem still 
requiring solution; for, if the cessation of nutrition in consequence of 
the pressure were the sole cause, the articular heads of the bones of 
* Vom Bau des Menschlichen Körpers, i. § 226, 233. 
f The recent observations and experiments of Miescher (De inflam, ossium, 
eorumque anatom, generali.—Berol. 1836), and of Mr. Gulliver (Med. Chir. 
Transact, v. xxi.), are unfavourable to the opinion that dead portions of bone are 


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