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Written by Dr.Mary

What is Thrombophlebitis?

The condition Thrombophlebitis is also known as deep vein thrombosis. The mechanism of the problem is the formation of blood clots in the deep veins. Thrombophlebitis can be a life-threatening for this can lead to free-moving blood clots or emboli that can result to pulmonary embolism, heart failure or stroke.

Risk factors for this condition include:

  • Inactivity
  • Prolonged bed rest or bedridden patients
  • Stroke – paralysis
  • After giving birth
  • Use of birth control pills
  • Overweight or obese clients
  • Elderly – those older than 60 years

Tests for confirmation of this condition include:

  • Doppler ultrasound – this test would reflect sound waves to evaluate the blood that flows in the blood vessel.
  • Duplex ultrasound – this incorporates two elements that test how blood moves through the arteries and veins.
  • Venography – this is also referred as phlebography, a procedure that uses an x-ray of the veins with a special dye is injected into the veins.

Superficial Thrombophlebitis

The condition is considered superficial thrombophlebitis when the affected veins are near the skin surface. The inflammation of the vein is due to blood clots located just below the skin surface. The cause of this condition includes:

  • Injury to the vein
  • Chemical irritation of the area
  • Disorders of blood clotting
  • Infection
  • Pregnancy
  • Sitting or staying still for a long period of time
  • Use of birth pills
  • Varicose veins

Migratory Thrombophlebitis

Migratory thrombophlebitis is considered as a complex situation of the disease. This condition is noted to be affecting the abdomen through numerous thromboses seen in the affected person’s body. The said condition is referred as Trousseau sign of malignancy. The major affected area of the thrombophlebitis is the vein that particularly function the flow of blood from the legs. This condition is considered very delicate, if one is to take note of the possible complications of the disease process or the outcome of the disease. The significant underlying malignancy, frequently of the lungs, pancreas and prostate can provide a grave result or effect on the person.

The reason behind the name of the disease (Trousseau) is because of the first person to identify this condition. He one day identified the disease and has started to described the condition.

Septic Thrombophlebitis

The condition is characterized by venous thrombosis, inflammation and bacteremia. The condition is stated to be a common problem related to catheterization. A bloodstream infection is said to be the common result from the intervention. Other causes of this condition include venipuncture, central peripheral catheter, intravenous drug use, abrasions and lacerations, soft tissue infection, hypercoagulable state and burn.

Septic phlebitis can be identified with blood cultures. Cultures can be extracted from the peripheral or central sites of the affected area. CBC result would be increase in leukocytes.

The presenting signs of inflammation include redness, warmth, pain, and swelling. Blanching of the area is also possible for a while.

Thrombophlebitis Symptoms

The condition is characterized by the following presenting signs and symptoms:

  • Warmth, tenderness and pain in the area
  • Redness and swelling are noted
  • Positive Homan’s sign: Identification of this problem is by the patient’s foot (bending the foot towards the head) while the patient lies flat on a bed or even surface and he/she complains of calf pain.

Complications may arise such as these are infections, gangrene, septic shock, deep vein thrombosis and:


  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke

These disease processes are only possible because of the clots being dislodged from its area. This can result to lung, heart and brain involvement. Embolism or emboli is the clot that is already free-moving. Further complications include varicose veins, swelling, skin discoloration, and blocked vein.

Thrombophlebitis Causes

The main cause of thrombophlebitis is blood clot formation. These clots are caused by many things and these are:

Injury to a vein

Damage to the blood vessel wall due to injury, trauma and surgery is an event that can induce blood clots.

Inherited blood-clotting disorder

The increase of viscosity of blood can result to blood clot formation. The underlying conditions that can cause thrombophlebitis is polycythemia vera. Intake of oral contraceptives can also induce blood clot formation. The condition polycythemia vera’s mechanism is to increase the number of red blood cells.

Decreased venous return

This is also referred as venous stasis. The condition thrombophlebitis is common among people who usually stand in long periods of time or do cross-legged sitting for a long time. Postoperative clients are also at risk of this condition for they have long periods of bed rest. Pregnant women are also prone to such malady.

Thrombophlebitis Treatment

The aim for the treatment of thrombophlebitis is to reduce pain and inflammation, along with the prevention of complications. Here are some of the interventions indicated for thrombophlebitis:

  • Application of warm compress. This can reduce the discomfort and swelling of the area.
  • Elevate the affected extremity. This facilitates venous return.
  • Intake of anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce inflammation.
  • For deep clots, giving of warfarin and heparin (known as blood thinners) is recommended. When one is for treatment for these blood thinners, he or she should avoid eating green leafy vegetables rich in vitamin K. Anti-thrombin or thrombolytic drugs would dissolve the clots found. Take note, a possible adverse effect of these drugs is bleeding.
  • Remember that one should avoid massage of the affected area. This can only result to additional problem such as embolism.
  • Surgical intervention is another form of remedy. Phlebectomy, stripping or sclerotherapy are the surgical remedies for thrombophlebitis.


One can prevent the occurrence of thrombophlebitis. Discipline and health awareness can assist a person in the prevention of such health condition and state.

Here are the following steps or tips to follow in order to prevent such case:

  • The Jobst compression stocking is a common tool to wear when one has to travel abroad and has an anticipated long journey waiting. This is usually recommended by doctors to their patients who are prone to venous diseases, such as thrombophlebitis.
  • Quit smoking – Smoking is a risk factor of venous problems. One should avoid or quite from this bad habit before they acquire such condition.

Thrombophlebitis Pictures

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