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Superficial Thrombophlebitis

Clinical Overview

Reviewed by Brian R. Robinson, MD

Superficial thrombophlebitis is the inflammatory response associated with a clot in the superficial (skin) veins. Usually, superficial thrombophlebitis is a benign and short-term condition whose symptoms subside in one to two weeks.

Superficial thrombophlebitis may occur after use of an intravenous (IV) line or after trauma to the vein. It occurs when a vein has been damaged or irritated, frequently due to an underlying condition such as varicose veins, increased blood clotting tendency, or pregnancy. Trauma to the area, such as damage to the vein that occurs during repeated blood tests or prolonged IV use can also be a culprit.

Other risk factors for superficial thrombophlebitis include autoimmune disorders such as HIV or AIDS and lupus, fractures in the affected area, obesity, recent surgery, a history of vascular disease, and rare protein deficiencies.

Symptoms include inflammation and redness along a superficial vein(a vein that is just under the surface of the skin), warmness or burning of the skin surrounding the vein, tenderness, irritation, or pain in the area which is exacerbated by pressure or contact, and hardening of the vein.

Last updated: Jan-01-00

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