What is Thrombophlebitis?

Thrombophlebitis means there is a blood clot (thrombosis or thromboembolism) in the vein that causes swelling and pain. You can find more information below.

What is thrombophlebitis?

Thrombophlebitis is an inflammatory process that causes one or more veins to become blocked, usually in your legs. The affected vein may be near the surface of your skin (superficial thrombophlebitis) or deep in the muscle (deep vein thrombosis or DVT). Causes include trauma to the vessels, surgery or prolonged immobility.

DVT increases your risk of serious health problems. It is usually treated with blood-thinning medications. Superficial thrombophlebitis is also sometimes treated with blood-thinning medications.

What causes thrombophlebitis?

The cause of this disease is a blood clot that can form in your blood as a result of:

  • Vascular injury
  • hereditary blood clotting disorder
  • Being sedentary for long periods of time, such as after an injury or a hospital stay

Who is at risk?

Your risk of thrombophlebitis increases if :

  • Being sedentary for long periods of time because you are prone to bed or have been traveling in a car or plane for long periods of time
  • Having varicose veins, a common cause of superficial thrombophlebitis
  • Having a pacemaker or a thin, flexible tube (catheter) in a central vein for the treatment of a medical condition that can irritate the blood vessel wall and reduce blood flow
  • Being pregnant or having just given birth
  • using birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy, which can increase the chance of your blood clotting
  • Family history of blood clotting disorder or a tendency to form blood clots
  • Having previous episodes of thrombophlebitis
  • have had a stroke before
  • be over 60 years old
  • Being overweight or obese
  • be a cancer patient
  • To smoke
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You should discuss prevention strategies with your doctor if you have one or more risk factors, before long flights or trips, or if you’re planning to have surgery that will require you to stay very still.

What are the symptoms of thrombophlebitis?

Symptoms of superficial thrombophlebitis include:

  • warmth, tenderness, and pain in the affected area
  • redness and swelling

Symptoms of deep vein thrombosis include:

  • ache
  • Swelling

When a vein near the surface of your skin is affected, you may see a red, hard cord just below the surface of your skin that is tender to the touch. When a deep vein in the leg is affected, your leg may be swollen, tender, and painful.

When should you see a doctor?

If you have a red, swollen or tender vein, you should see your doctor right away, especially if you have one or more risk factors for thrombophlebitis.

You should seek emergency help in the following situations:

  • If vascular swelling and pain are severe
  • You also have shortness of breath or chest pain, coughing up blood, or other symptoms that could indicate a blood clot traveling to your lungs (pulmonary embolism).

In the above situations, have someone drive you to the emergency room, if possible. Driving can be difficult and it can be helpful to have someone with you to help you remember the information you have received.

How is thrombophlebitis diagnosed?

To diagnose thrombophlebitis, your doctor will ask about your condition and look for affected veins near the surface of your skin. To determine if you have superficial thrombophlebitis or deep vein thrombosis, your doctor may choose one of these tests:

  • Ultrasound: A wand-like device (transducer) that moves over the affected area of ​​your leg sends sound waves to your leg. As the sound waves pass through your leg tissue and are reflected back, the computer turns the waves into a moving image on the video screen. This test can confirm the diagnosis and distinguish between superficial and deep vein thrombosis.
  • Blood test: Almost everyone who has a blood clot has a high blood level of a naturally occurring, clot-dissolving substance called a D dimer. However, D dimer levels may also be elevated in other situations. Therefore, the D dimer test is not conclusive, but may indicate whether further testing is needed. It is also useful for excluding DVT and repeatedly identifying people at risk of developing thrombophlebitis.
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How is thrombophlebitis treated?

For superficial thrombophlebitis, your doctor may recommend applying heat to the painful area, elevating the affected leg, using an over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), and possibly wearing compression stockings. The condition usually resolves on its own.

Your doctor may also recommend the following treatments for both types of thrombophlebitis:

  • Blood-thinning medications: If you have deep vein thrombosis, an injection of a blood-thinning medication such as low molecular weight heparin, fondaparinux, or apixaban will prevent clots from growing. After initial treatment, you’ll likely be told to take warfarin or rivaroxaban for a few months to prevent clots from growing. Blood thinners can cause excessive bleeding. You should always carefully follow your doctor’s instructions.
  • Clot-dissolving drugs: Treatment with a clot-busting drug is called thrombolysis. A medication, alteplase, is used to dissolve blood clots in people with extensive DVT, including those with a blood clot in the lungs (pulmonary embolism).
  • Compression stockings: Prescription compression stockings help prevent swelling and reduce the chance of complications from DVT.
  • Vena cava filter: If you can’t use blood thinners, a filter may be inserted into the main vein in your abdomen (vena cava) to prevent loosened clots in the leg veins from staying in your lungs. Usually the filter is removed when it is no longer needed.
  • Surgery: Your doctor may surgically remove varicose veins that are causing pain or recurrent thrombophlebitis. The procedure involves removing a long vein through small incisions. Removing the vein does not affect the blood flow in your leg because the veins deeper in the leg take care of the increased blood volumes.
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Remember, your doctor will decide which medicine to take and how.

Lifestyle and home remedies

In addition to medical treatments, here are self-care measures to help improve this condition.

If you have superficial thrombophlebitis:

  • Use a warm washcloth to apply heat to the affected area several times a day.
  • keep your leg high
  • Take a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as ibuprofen or naproxen sodium if recommended by your doctor

You should let your doctor know if you are taking any other blood thinners such as aspirin .

If you have deep vein thrombosis:

  • Take blood thinners prescribed by your doctor to avoid complications
  • Keep your leg elevated if swollen
  • Wear your prescription compression stockings as directed

What are the complications of thrombophlebitis?

Complications of superficial thrombophlebitis are rare. However, if you develop DVT, the risk of serious complications increases. Complications can include:

  • Pulmonary embolism: If part of a deep vein clot dislodges, it can block an artery and travel to your lungs, potentially life-threatening. What is this condition of pulmonary embolism ?
  • Postphlebic syndrome: Also known as post-thrombotic syndrome, this condition can develop months or even years after DVT. Phlebetic syndrome can cause persistent, possibly severe pain, swelling and a feeling of heaviness in the affected leg.

Can thrombophlebitis be prevented?

Sitting during a long flight or car journey can cause your ankles and calves to swell and increase your risk of thrombophlebitis. To help prevent blood clots:

  • Go for a walk. If you’re taking a train or bus, walk up and down the aisle every hour. If you’re driving, stop and move every hour.
  • Move your legs regularly. Flex your ankles or gently press your feet onto the floor or footrest in front of you at least 10 times per hour.
  • Drink plenty of water or other non-alcoholic liquids to stay hydrated.

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