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phlebitis

overview

Phlebitis is an inflammation of the veins that usually develops in the arms or legs. When it affects a vein close to your skin’s surface, it’s called superficial phlebitis. When it affects a deeper vein, it’s called thrombophlebitis or deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

Superficial phlebitis usually develops after you’ve had a mild trauma to one of your veins, such as having an IV catheter. It generally subsides quickly and doesn’t cause any serious health problems.

Deep vein thrombophlebitis is usually caused by a blood clot in one of your veins. If the blood clot breaks loose, it can travel through your bloodstream to your lungs, causing a dangerous blockage called a pulmonary embolism, which keeps blood from reaching your lungs.

symptoms

The most common symptoms of phlebitis are:

  • Pain, swelling and tenderness (which can get worse when you lower your leg)
  • Red, itchy skin that feels warm to the touch
If your phlebitis is related to an infection, you may also have a low-grade fever.

diagnosis

To diagnose phlebitis, your doctor will perform a physical exam and ask about any symptoms you have. He or she may also order diagnostic tests, such as an ultrasoundor blood tests.

services & treatment

If you’re diagnosed with phlebitis, your doctor will work with you on a treatment plan tailored to your needs. It may include medications such as antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, or blood thinners. Your doctor may also recommend wearing compression stockings. 

If the phlebitis is severe, you may be a good candidate for vein ligation and stripping. This involves surgically tying off a vein, then “stripping” or removing it, usually through a minimally invasive surgery called venous ablation.

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