) related to a blood clot or thrombus
. When it occurs repeatedly in different locations, it is known as "Thrombophlebitis migrans" or "migrating thrombophlebitis".
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Thrombophlebitis (another medical term is "White Leg") is related to a blood clot (thrombus) in the vein. Risk factors include prolonged sitting and disorders related to blood clotting
. Specific disorders associated with thrombophlebitis include superficial thrombophlebitis (affects veins near the skin surface) and deep venous thrombosis
(affects deeper, larger veins). Thrombophlebitis migrans can be a non-metastatic
manifestation of bronchial carcinoma
The following symptoms are often (but not always) associated with thrombophlebitis:
- pain in the part of the body affected
- skin redness or inflammation (not always present)
- swelling (edema) of the extremities (ankle and foot)
Signs and tests
The health care provider makes the diagnosis primarily based on the appearance of the affected area. Frequent checks of the pulse
, blood pressure
condition, and circulation
may be required.
If the cause is not readily identifiable, tests may be performed to determine the cause, including the following:
For more specific recommendations, see the particular condition. In general, treatment may include the following:
The patient may be advised to do the following:
- Elevate the affected area to reduce swelling.
- Keep pressure off of the area to reduce pain and decrease the risk of further damage.
- Apply moist heat to reduce inflammation and pain.
- Surgical removal, stripping, or bypass of the vein is rarely needed but may be recommended in some situations.
Thrombophlebitis and other forms of phlebitis usually respond to prompt medical treatment.
Complications are rare, but when they occur they can be serious. The most serious complication occurs when the blood clot dislodges, traveling through the heart and occluding the dense capillary network of the lungs; this is a pulmonary embolism
and is extremely life threatening.
Routine changing of intravenous (IV) lines helps to prevent phlebitis related to IV lines. See the specific disorders associated with thrombophlebitis for other preventive measures.
- Thrombophlebitis MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. Public domain text. Update Date: 4/19/2004. Updated by: Brian F. Burke M.D., Department of Internal Medicine, Munson Medical Center, Traverse City, MI. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.