I have severe pitting edema (for almost 1 year) and I have had a battery of tests, all with no shown causes for the edema. Sodium levels are normal, echocardiogram is normal, Doppler studies are normal, hypertension is well controlled with ACE Inhibitor ( Lisinopril ) and even 80mg of Lasix (furosemide) and keeping feet elevated all the time does not help. It has been present in my legs, ankles and feet and seems to now be spreading to other areas (torso, hands and face). At this point, the prospect of an autoimmune disease or something systemic is being considered and tested for. Other than that, I have no idea what could be causing this.
Corticosteroids have been used as drug treatment for some time. Lewis Sarett of Merck & Co. was the first to synthesize cortisone, using a complicated 36-step process that started with deoxycholic acid, which was extracted from ox bile .  The low efficiency of converting deoxycholic acid into cortisone led to a cost of US $200 per gram. Russell Marker , at Syntex , discovered a much cheaper and more convenient starting material, diosgenin from wild Mexican yams . His conversion of diosgenin into progesterone by a four-step process now known as Marker degradation was an important step in mass production of all steroidal hormones, including cortisone and chemicals used in hormonal contraception .  In 1952, . Peterson and . Murray of Upjohn developed a process that used Rhizopus mold to oxidize progesterone into a compound that was readily converted to cortisone.  The ability to cheaply synthesize large quantities of cortisone from the diosgenin in yams resulted in a rapid drop in price to US $6 per gram, falling to $ per gram by 1980. Percy Julian's research also aided progress in the field.  The exact nature of cortisone's anti-inflammatory action remained a mystery for years after, however, until the leukocyte adhesion cascade and the role of phospholipase A2 in the production of prostaglandins and leukotrienes was fully understood in the early 1980s.