by Diana Kohnle
Superficial thrombophlebitis is inflammation of a vein close to the surface of the skin. It occurs most often in the leg. The condition is easily treatable, though it sometimes leads to more serious health concerns.
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Superficial thrombophlebitis is caused by a blood clot in a vein that is close to the surface of the skin.
Factors that increase your chance of developing superficial thrombophlebitis include:
Superficial thrombophlebitis may cause:
A complication of superficial thrombophlebitis is a condition called deep vein thrombosis (DVT). This is a blood clot in the deeper veins that causes obstruction of blood flow. This can lead to pulmonary embolism, a serious situation that occurs when the blood clot breaks free and gets lodged in the lungs.
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Tests may include the following:
In most cases, superficial thrombophlebitis goes away on its own after a few weeks. Treatment can be done at home with the following:
If you are diagnosed with superficial thrombophlebitis, follow your doctor's instructions.
To help reduce your chances of superficial thrombophlebitis, take these steps:
American College of Phlebology
The Society for Vascular Surgery
Canadian Society for Vascular Surgery
Public Health Agency of Canada
McQuillan AD, Eikelboom JW, Baker RI. Venous thromboembolism in travelers: can we identify those at risk? Blood Coagul Fibrinolysis. 2003 Oct;14(7):671-5.
Ramzi DW, Leeper KV. DVT and pulmonary embolism: Part I. Diagnosis. Am Fam Physician. 2004;69(12):2829-2836.
Vandenbroucke JP, Rosing J, Bloemenkamp KWM, Middeldorp S, Helmerhorst FM, Bouma BN. Oral contraceptives and the risk of venous thrombosis. N Engl J Med. 2001 May 17;344:1527-1535.
Last reviewed August 2013 by Michael J. Fucci, DO; Brian Randall, MD
Last Updated: 5/11/2013