[bt_quote style="box" width="0"] Superficial thrombophlebitis is an inflammatory condition of the veins due to a blood clot just below the surface of the skin. [/bt_quote] [bt_accordion width="0" active_first="yes" icon="plus-square-1"] [bt_spoiler title="Definition" icon="list"] When a person looks at the body, they’ll note blue lines that seem to be right under the skin. Sometimes some of these protrude, especially if the person is warm. These are the superficial veins.
Veins are essentially part of the blood transport network. While arteries send blood out from the heart to oxygenate the organs and tissues, veins work to return this blood to the heart so that it can be sent back to the lungs to pick up more oxygen. The term superficial vein is a term used in contrast to deep vein. Deep veins are near an artery with a name that is similar, and usually can’t be seen on the body’s surface. They’re also often larger than superficial veins and more vital.
A superficial vein is not located near arteries bearing similar names, and though they are important to the body, they are not as vital as deep veins. In fact, if such a vein becomes too prominent, or becomes varicose, a term usually reserved for veins in the legs, people can have them removed via surgery named vein stripping. Since these veins are superficial, this is usually safe, as blood flow to the legs will still be adequate through deep veins. One of the biggest differences between a deep and a superficial vein is amount of blood carried; deep veins are responsible for transporting most of the blood, and superficial veins, though important, carry far less. [/bt_spoiler] [bt_spoiler title="Causes" icon="list"] This condition may occur after injury to the vein. Or it may occur after having an intravenous (IV) line or catheter. If you have a high risk of this condition, you may develop it for no apparent reason. Risks of superficial thrombophlebitis include:
-- Chemical irritation of the area
-- Disorders that involve increased blood clotting
-- Sitting or staying still for a prolonged period
-- Use of birth control pills
-- Varicose veins
Superficial thrombophlebitis may be associated with:
-- Abdominal cancers (such as pancreatic cancer)
-- Deep vein thrombosis
-- Factor V Leiden
-- Prothrombin gene mutation
-- Thromboangiitis obliterans
Other rare disorders associated this condition include antithrombin III (AT-III), protein C and protein S deficiencies. [/bt_spoiler] [bt_spoiler title="Symptoms" icon="list"] Symptoms may include any of the following:
-- Skin redness, inflammation, tenderness, or pain along a vein just below the skin
-- Warmth of the area
-- Limb pain
-- Hardening of the vein [/bt_spoiler] [bt_spoiler title="Treatment" icon="list"] The goals of treatment are to reduce pain and inflammation and prevent complications. To reduce discomfort and swelling, your health care provider may recommend that you:
-- Wear support stockings, if your leg is affected
-- Keep the affected leg or arm raised above heart level
-- Apply a warm compress to the area
If you have a catheter or IV line, it will likely be removed if it is the cause of the thrombophlebitis. Medicines that may be prescribed include:
-- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to reduce inflammation
If deeper clots (deep vein thrombosis) are also present, your provider may prescribe medicines to thin your blood. These medicines are called anticoagulants. Antibiotics are prescribed if you have an infection.
Surgical removal (phlebectomy), stripping, or sclerotherapy of the affected vein are occasionally needed to treat large varicose veins or to prevent further episodes of thrombophlebitis in high-risk patients. [/bt_spoiler] [bt_spoiler title="Prevention" icon="list"] If you need to have an IV, the risk of superficial thrombophlebitis may be reduced by regularly changing the location of the IV and by immediate removal of the IV line if signs of inflammation develop.
Whenever possible, avoid keeping your legs and arm still for long periods. Move your legs often or take a stroll during long plane trips, car trips, and other situations in which you are sitting or lying down for long periods. Walking and staying active as soon as possible after surgery or during a long-term medical illness can also reduce your risk of thrombophlebitis. [/bt_spoiler] [/bt_accordion]
Superficial thrombophlebitis is an inflammatory condition of the veins due to a blood clot just below the surface of the skin.