Phlebitis is swelling (inflammation) of a vein especially of the leg.
It most often happens in superficial veins.
Very frequently the inflammation occurs together with the formation of a clot (thrombus) which blocks the blood flow through the vein.
This disorder is known as thrombophlebitis or venous thrombosis, an annoying but not harmful disorder.
There are two main types of phlebitis:
1. A superficial disorder that is painful but not threatening to life.
Superficial phlebitis is most likely to form in:
a. People with varicose veins,
b. Patients who are bedridden
c. Pregnant women.
There may be obvious swelling and a red streak along the involved vein.
2. Deep phlebitis,also known as deep vein thrombosis a potentially serious disorder involving an interior blood vessel.
The most important danger is that a portion of the clot will break away and move through the venous system to the lungs forming a pulmonary embolism.
If one of the large pulmonary vessels is blocked, death may result.
Deep phlebitis is more likely to cause:
a. Pain or burning along the length of the vein
b. Localized redness and swelling of the entire limb
c. Vein being hard and cord-like.
Most of the time, it occurs in the pelvis and legs.
Blood clots may form when something slows or changes the flow of blood in the veins.
Risk factors for phlebitis are:
1. Cancer or liver disease
2. Deep vein thrombosis
3. Varicose veins
6. Sitting or staying still for a prolonged period
7. The presence of an indwelling (long-term) catheter in a blood vessel
Causes of phlebitis are:
1. Trauma to the vessel wall,
2. Hyper-coagulability of the blood,
4. Prolonged sitting, standing, immobilization,
5. After a long period of intravenous catheterization
1. Swelling in the part of the body affected
2. Pain in the part of the body affected
3. Skin redness (not always present)
4. Warmth and tenderness over the vein
The doctor will diagnose this disorder based mainly on the appearance of the affected vein.
Frequent checks of the pulse, blood pressure, temperature, skin condition, and blood flow is required.
Ultrasound of the blood vessels and venography help confirm the disorder.
Support stockings and wraps decrease discomfort.
The doctor may prescribe medicines such as:
2. Blood thinners (heparin, fondaparinux, enoxaparin) to prevent new clots from forming, only prescribed when deep veins are affected
3. Medicines to reduce pain and swelling
4. Medicines intravenously to dissolve an existing clot
The patient may:
1. Keep pressure off the area to reduce pain and decrease the risk of further damage.
2. Raise the affected area to reduce swelling.
1. Surgical removal of a vein near the surface
2. Vein stripping
3. Bypass of the vein
Superficial Phlebitis is normally treated with:
1. Periods of rest with the leg elevated,
2. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
3 .Antibiotics are not regularly indicated for treatment of superficial phlebitis, in that the erythema and tenderness are local inflammatory reactions.
It is given when suppurative Phlebitis is present.
4. Warm compresses ease the inflammation,
5. Elastic stockings or bandages may help to reduce the swelling.
Deep Phlebitis is normally treated with anticoagulant drugs to reduce the formation of clots and to permit the clots that have already formed to dissolve.
1. Bed rest with the leg elevated
2. Anticoagulant drugs may be prescribed for up to several months to prevent recurrence.
TABLE OF CONTENT
Chapter 1 Phlebitis
Chapter 2 Causes
Chapter 3 Symptoms
Chapter 4 Diagnosis
Chapter 5 Treatment
Chapter 6 Prognosis
Chapter 7 Varicose Veins
Chapter 8 Peripheral Blood Vessels Disorders