Thrombophlebitis is phlebitis (vein inflammation) related to a blood clot or thrombus. When it occurs repeatedly in different locations, it is known as "Thrombophlebitis migrans" or "migrating thrombophlebitis".
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).
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, temperature, skin condition, and circulation may be required.
If the cause is not readily identifiable, tests may be performed to determine the cause, including the following:
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 ocurs when the blood clot dislodges, travelling 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.