Superficial Thrombophlebitis

( Phlebitis; Thrombophlebitis)


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.

Risk Factors

Factors that increase your chance of developing superficial thrombophlebitis include:
  • Trauma especially to the lower leg
  • Blood clotting disorder
  • Sitting for long periods of time, such as riding in a car or on an airplane
  • Prolonged bed rest
  • Prior episodes of phlebitis
  • Certain cancers
  • Paralysis, which may be caused by a stroke
  • Family history of blood clotting disorders
  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy


Superficial thrombophlebitis may cause:
  • A visible, cord-like vein that is tender and sensitive to pressure; this visibility may develop over several hours to days
  • Redness and warmth surrounding the vein
  • Swelling around the vein
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.

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