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Thrombophlebitis

Thrombophlebitis is derived from the word 'thrombo' which means clot. Phlebitis indicates a swollen or inflamed vein. Thrombophlebitis is a blood circulatory condition that is caused by blood clots. It occurs mostly in the legs. Thrombophlebitis can occur at a superficial or deeper level. Superficial thromboplebitis occurs more commonly and is seldom life threatening. On the other hand, deep venous thrombosis affects larger and deeper veins. Sometimes there may be a condition of both superficial and deep vein components. In cases where there is superficial thromboplebitis, care must be taken to ensure that it does not cascade into condition where the deep veins are involved. Most cases of superficial thrombophlebitis resolve by themselves in a couple of weeks. It is when the deeper veins are affected that the clot can hamper or even cut off the bloodstream. The clot can travel through the blood and block circulation in vital organs such as the heart or lungs.


One of the common causes for thrombophlebitis is hospitalization due to surgery or bed rest. This is because thrombophlebitis is caused from long periods of inactivity. Long airplane journeys can reduce blood flow through the veins and lead to the formation of clots. Varicose veins, pregnancy or complication of IV tubes can lead to thrombophlebitis. Women using oral contraceptives or undergoing HRT are at increased risk of developing thrombophlebitis. If you have a family history of blood clots, you may be at risk of thrombophlebitis. When a patient suffers from thrombophlebitis, the leg veins become swollen and hard to touch. There is redness and swelling in the affected area. When a person suffers from superficial thrombophlebitis, he/she might feel a hard and tender cord barely under the surface of the skin.


Diagnostic tools such as Doppler ultrasound or blood coagulation studies help in examining a patient for thrombophlebitis. For mild cases of superficial thrombophlebitis, you can take analgesics to reduce pain and non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for inflammation. To reduce the pain or discomfort and the swelling, support stockings and elevation of the affected extremity are usually recommended. In cases of deep venous thrombophlebitis, Thrombolytic drugs are prescribed to melt the clots. Antibiotics are prescribed to treat any infection. Supportive hose or stockings can help in reducing swelling. Keeping the leg elevated prevents excess fluid in the affected area. Application of moist heat on the affected area helps in reducing pain. In high-risk cases of deep venous thrombophlebitis, surgery is used to strip out the affected vein or bypass the clot. Anticoagulants or blood thinners to prevent new clots from forming.

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Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: December 12, 2017