122015Nov
What Patients Should Know About Thrombophlebitis

What Patients Should Know About Thrombophlebitis

When a vein becomes inflamed as the result of a blood clot, the condition is known as thrombophlebitis.  This news can be frightening to some patients.  However, prompt medical attention to the inflammation typically results in a positive outcome.

Overview of Thrombophlebitis

According to the Mayo Clinic, there are two forms of this inflammation:

  • Superficial usually occurs in the superficial veins found in the legs and arms.  Symptoms include tenderness, warmth, and pain in the area around the vein.  Swelling and redness are common.  The vein sometimes looks hard and resembles a cord.  Complications are rare.
  • Deep vein typically causes leg swelling, pain, and tenderness.  Potential complications include a pulmonary embolism or post-phlebetic syndrome.  Deep-vein thrombosis can be life-threatening.

Vein doctors, also called vascular surgeons, know that both types of inflammation share a common cause.  Clots can be the result of anything that causes blood to not circulate properly.  Potential risk factors include:

  • Vein injury like an IV needle stick
  • A blood-clotting disorder present at birth
  • Long periods of immobility, such as being bedridden
  • Paralysis of legs or arms related to a stroke
  • Presence of a pacemaker or a central vein catheter
  • Pregnancy or recent delivery
  • Hormone replacement therapy or birth control pills
  • Family history of clotting
  • Age greater than 60
  • Varicose veins

The Keck School of Medicine of USC reports that any condition linked to sluggish blood flow in a vein raises the risk of a blood clot forming.  This could also include smoking, obesity, or surgical procedures.

Vein Treatment Options

There are fortunately many ways to treat vein inflammation resulting from a blood clot.  Vascular surgeons generally recommend avoiding any pressure on the affected area and elevating it to reduce any swelling.

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, the standard options vein doctors utilize for this type of vascular inflammation include:

  • Analgesics for pain
  • Antibiotics if there is an infection
  • Anticoagulants to thin the blood and avoid new clots
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to cut inflammation and pain
  • Thrombolytics that dissolve clots

Since having varicose veins is a risk factor for a superficial inflammation, vein specialists often recommend wearing compression stockings and avoiding sitting or standing for extended periods for patients with these vessels.  For those who have already experienced an episode of superficial inflammation, varicose vein treatment at a vein clinic helps prevent another occurrence.

The most common types of treatment for varicose vessels are:

  • Sclerotherapy to eliminate small veins
  • Ablation to close a vessel via heat, often the Venefit procedure, previously called the VNUS Closure
  • Bypass to reroute circulation around the vessel
  • Microphlebectomy to remove the vein through small incisions
  • Angioplasty and stenting to open a vessel with a balloon and hold it open with a mesh tube
  • Vein stripping to remove a vessel with severe, recurrent problems