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Classification & external resources
The popliteal vein.
ICD-10 I80.
ICD-9 451
DiseasesDB 13043
eMedicine emerg/581  emerg/582 med/3201
MeSH D010689

Phlebitis is an inflammation of a vein, usually in the legs.

When phlebitis is associated with the formation of blood clots (thrombosis), usually in the deep veins of the legs, the condition is called thrombophlebitis.



  • Bacterial: Pathogenic organisms can gain access and stimulate inflammation.
  • Chemical: caused by irritating or vesicant solutions.
  • Mechanical: physical trauma from the skin puncture and movement of the cannula into the vein during insertion; any subsequent manipulation and movement of the cannula; clotting; or excessively large cannula.
  • Medications including Celebrex, antidepressants, and others.
  • Lupus
  • Genetic as it is known to run in families.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Redness (erythema) and warmth with a temperature elevation of a degree or more above the baseline
  • Pain or burning along the length of the vein
  • Swelling (edema)
  • Vein being hard, and cordlike
  • If occurring due to an intravenous infusion line, then slowed infusion rate

Notable cases

  • Former United States President Richard Nixon and former Vice President Dan Quayle suffered from phlebitis.
  • Truman Capote, famed author of In Cold Blood and many other works, suffered from phlebitis. Pablo Neruda, the famous poet, also suffered from it.
  • During the shooting of Sense and Sensibility (1995), actress Kate Winslet, who played the role of Marianne Dashwood, suffered from phlebitis.
  • Mario Lanza suffered from phlebitis, and his cause of death in 1959 was from a blood clot going from his leg to his lungs.

Cultural references

  • The condition was detailed in The Dharma Bums and other writings by Beat author Jack Kerouac, who suffered from the disease probably brought on by years of benzedrine and alcohol abuse.
  • In Henry Morton Robinson's best selling 1949 novel "The Cardinal", (later made into a motion picture by Otto Preminger), a severe case of phlebitis is a prominent plot device as sustained by the main protagonist Stephen Fermoyle.
  • In the Seinfeld episode The Shower Head Jerry's Mother tells Jerry that Morty's "Phlebitis is acting up."
  • In The Simpsons episode Bart Gets an F, the school nurse believes Bart has phlebitis.
  • In All in the Family episode Too Good Edith, Edith has phlebitis.
  • Peter Boyle's character on Everybody Loves Raymond suffers from phlebitis. Or at least it is used as an excuse for getting out of undesirable family functions.
  • In King Of The Hill, when Mr. Strickland took bible study class in the pool with Luanne, Hank noted that it was "good for his phlebitis".
  • In the M*A*S*H episode "The Young and the Restless", Colonel Potter suffers through a bout of phlebitis, aggravated by his initial refusal to acknowledge his condition.
  • In Futurama, Richard Nixon reminisces about his "Good Republican body" which was "riddled with phlebitis."

See also

  • Collapsed vein


Intravenous Infusion Therapy for Nurses (Second Edition) by Dianne L. Josephson (ISBN 1-4018-0935-9)

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Phlebitis". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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