What Is Thrombophlebitis?

Thrombophlebitis is inflammation of a vein caused by a blood clot (also known as a thrombus). Thrombophlebitis (throm-boe-fluh-BY-tis) is an inflammatory process that causes a blood clot to form and block one or more veins, usually in your legs. The less specific term, “superficial phlebitis” is typically used as an initial, provisional diagnosis until further tests/imaging studies have been completed. Superficial phlebitis does relate to the clinical findings of pain/redness/inflammation of the vein without the confirmed presence of a clot.

There are three specific kinds of thrombophlebitis, diagnosed by location.

Are There Symptoms?

There are several symptoms that may accompany thrombophlebitis including:

  • SWELLING – Recent swelling of the limb
  • PAIN – Unexplained limb pain or tenderness
  • WARMTH – Skin that may be warm to the touch
  • REDNESS — Redness of the skin

When a vein close to the surface of your skin is affected, you might see a red, hard cord just under the surface of your skin that’s tender to the touch. When a deep vein in the leg is affected, your leg may become swollen, tender, painful, and is usually difficult to walk on.

Treating Thrombophlebitis

See your doctor right away if you have a red, swollen or tender vein. Call 911 if you have any symptoms of shortness of breath, knife-like chest pain on inspiration, coughing up blood, or rapid heartbeat.

Treatment Overview

Your healthcare provider may order additional lab work and obtain imaging, including Duplex ultrasonography to better visualize and diagnose thrombophlebitis, in conjunction with history-taking and physical exam. Depending on results, anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) and compression stockings may be utilized for superficial thrombophlebitis. Anticoagulation (blood thinner) medication is utilized if there is a presence of an acute DVT or if an SVT is showing evidence of encroaching on the deep venous system.

Region Vein Treatment Approach

At Region Vein, we understand the serious impact that thromboembolic disease has on our patients and their families. As underlying venous disease can play a significant role in the majority of patients who have been affected by thrombophlebitis, we will collaborate with your referring physician to determine the best care plan for you.


More About Thrombophlebitis

Superficial Thrombophlebitis (STP) usually occurs in surface-layer veins (usually located in the legs) and are often located in large caliber, dilated varicose veins.

Superficial venous thrombosis (SVT), means the finding of thrombus involving the larger superficial saphenous veins, such as the great saphenous vein. Depending on location, SVT may extend (propagate) into the deep venous system, resulting in a more serious deep venous thrombosis (DVT), when the deep veins of the legs (deep to the muscle layer) develop a thrombus.

When a DVT develops, there is a chance that a clot can break off and enter the pulmonary vasculature, known as a pulmonary embolus (PE)-which can be a life-threatening complication.

Risk Factors

Risk factors for developing thrombophlebitis include:

-Immobilization (e.g. recent surgery/trauma)
-Hormonal Therapy (e.g. estrogen)
-Malignancy/Active cancer
-Pre-existing venous disease/varicose veins
-Certain genetic states (e.g. Factor V Leiden)
-Advanced age