Phlebitis is the term for the swelling of a vein, most often in one’s leg. Thrombophlebitis is the term for inflammation of a vein caused by a blood clot. The term is often shortened to phlebitis. The condition is easily treatable, though it sometimes leads to more serious health concerns.
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There are two kinds of phlebitis: superficial phlebitis (affecting veins near the skin's surface) and deep venous thrombosis (DVT).
When the clot is embedded into a deep vein, thrombophlebitis can become much more serious. The condition, appropriately named deep vein thrombosis , can cause blood clots in the lungs ( pulmonary embolism ), heart attack , and stroke .
Phlebitis is often caused by:
A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition.
The following factors increase your chance of developing phlebitis:
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam.
Tests may include the following:
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include:
If you are diagnosed with phlebitis, follow your doctor's instructions .
Phlebitis can sometimes be prevented by the following actions:
On flights or car rides lasting more than four hours, take additional precautions to reduce your risk of thrombosis. These include:
The Mayo Clinic
National Institutes of Health
University of Maryland Medical Center
University of Michigan Health Systems
British Columbia Ministry of Health
Canadian Institute for Health Information
McQuillan AD, Eikelboom JW, Baker RI. Venous thromboembolism in travelers: can we identify those at risk? Blood Coagul Fibrinolysis . 2003 Oct;14(7):671-5.
Ramzi DW, Leeper KV. DVT and pulmonary embolism: Part I. Diagnosis. Am Fam Physician . 2006;69(12). Available at http://www.aafp.org/afp/20040615/2829.html. Accessed February 27, 2007.
Sadovsky R. Superficial Thrombophlebitis: ligation vs. anticoagulation. Am Fam Physician . 2002;65(10). Available at http://www.aafp.org/afp/20020515/tips/6.html. Accessed February 27, 2007.
Vandenbroucke JP, Rosing J, Bloemenkamp KWM, Middeldorp S, Helmerhorst FM, Bouma BN. Oral contraceptives and the risk of venous thrombosis. N Engl J Med . 2001 May 17;344:1527-1535.
Last reviewed September 2012 by Michael J. Fucci, DO
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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