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Thrombophlebitis

Phlebitis, superficial phlebitis, deep vein thrombosis

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

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Deep venous thrombosis, ileofemoral
Venous blood clot

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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.

Related Information

Blood clots
Superficial thrombophlebitis
Deep venous thrombosis
Lymphangitis

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.

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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.

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