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Thrombophlebitis

Definition

Thrombophlebitis is swelling (inflammation) of a vein caused by a blood clot.

Alternative Names

Phlebitis, superficial phlebitis, deep vein thrombosis

Causes

The following increase your chances for thrombophlebitis:

There are two main types of thrombophlebitis:

Symptoms

The following symptoms are often associated with thrombophlebitis:

Exams and Tests

The health care provider can usually diagnose the condition based on how the affected area looks. You may need to have your pulse, blood pressure, temperature, skin condition, and circulation frequently checked to make sure you don't have complications.

If the cause cannot be easily identified, one or more of the following tests may be done:

Treatment

In general, treatment may include support stockings and wraps to reduce discomfort, as well as medications such as:

You may be told to do the following:

Surgical removal, stripping, or bypass of the vein is rarely needed, but may be recommended in some situations.

For more specific recommendations, see the particular condition (superficial thrombophlebitis or deep venous thrombosis).

Outlook (Prognosis)

Thrombophlebitis and other forms of phlebitis usually respond to prompt medical treatment.

Possible Complications

Superficial thrombophlebitis rarely causes complications.

Complications of deep vein thrombosis include a blood clot in the lungs (pulmonary embolism) or chronic pain and swelling in the leg.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of thrombophlebitis.

Call your health care provider promptly if thrombophlebitis symptoms do not improve with treatment, if symptoms get worse, or if new symptoms occur (such as an entire limb becoming pale, cold, or swollen).

Prevention

Routine changing of intravenous (IV) lines helps to prevent thrombophlebitis related to IVs.

If you are taking a long car or plane trip, walk or stretch your legs once in a while and drink plenty of liquids. Wearing support hose may help.

If you are hospitalized, your health care provider may prescribe medicine to prevent deep venous thrombosis.

References

Ginsberg J. Peripheral venous disease. In: Goldman L, Shafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 81.


Review Date: 5/5/2014
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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