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What is Phlebitis ?

A condition featuring inflammation of a vein is termedas phlebitis. Inflammation of the veins that is caused by a blood clot is known as thrombophlebitis.

Phlebitis can occur in skin at shallow depth, or it can occur deep inside the tissues under the skin. The clots that occur on shallow veins just below the skin are called as superficial phlebitis,while deep vein thrombophlebitis is a clot that affects the veins present deeper within the skin. This condition is also known by other names such as or deep vein thrombosisor DVT, and deep venous thrombophlebitis.

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Phlebitis which affects the upper and lower limbs is mostly non-cancerous, and generally has a favorable outcome. As such shallow phlebitisis not an indication of an underlying case of DVT. But the presence of blood clots which affect the long big vein occurring in the inside part of the legs may be an indication of cancer. If this saphenous veinoccurring in the leg is affected by thrombophlebitis, then it can be occasionally linked to a preexisting instance of deep vein thrombophlebitis.

It is important to remember that deep vein thrombophlebitis which occurs in the upper and lower extremities can result in serious complications, when the blood clot begins to spread to the blood vessels of lungs, eventually leading to development of pulmonary embolism. This condition can cause damage to the tissues of lungs, which may be often be fatal

Symptoms of phlebitis

The following are some of the signs and symptoms of phlebitis:

  • Swelling of the vein, tenderness, along with redness and pain
  • The erythema or the softness and redness may occur along the pathway of the vein present below the skin
  • Both deep and shallow phlebitis generate mild fever
  • Mild cases may or may not bear any of the symptoms
  • The oozing of pus, along with high temperature and fever is an indication that infection has taken place. This condition is referred to as septic thrombophlebitis.
  • In a DVT condition, high temperature, fever, swelling, redness of the affected portion, softness and pain exists with walking difficulties for the affected leg.
  • Visible cords along the vein’s course will be indicating the presence of a shallow clot or superficial thrombophlebitis.

Causes of phlebitis

Phlebitis can be caused by several different factors. The following are some of the causes of phlebitis:

  • Phlebitis caused due to intravenous catheters use is known as induced phlebitis
  • Idleness for a longer period such as a long drive or the plane travel
  • The phase of post operation periods, specifically posorthopedic operations
  • Spot injury to the vein
  • Incidents of varicose vein
  • Cancers and preexisting clotting diseases
  • Acute immobility caused due to an underlying disease that requires prolonged bed rest
  • Intravenous administering of drugs
  • Burn accident patients are at greater risk of phlebitis
  • Disturbances in the normal discharge system of veins, such as mastectomy for breast cancer patients.

The following are some of the risk factors that induce or elevate the susceptibility to developing phlebitis:

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  • Pregnancy, hormone therapy, and intake of birth control pills increase the risk of developing thrombophlebitis
  • Continuous idling without any physical activities can also cause phlebitis. The bloods from the veins of lower limbs are pushed to the heart through the constrained muscles of the lower body parts. The contraction of muscles for several hours,such as sitting on a plane, causes the stagnation of blood in those veins, which lead to clot and result in thrombophlebitis
  • Any injury or trauma to the leg or arm, naturally cause injury to the veins runningbelow that injury point, which result in the inflammation of vein and ends in phlebitis.
  • Obesity can also trigger an instance of phlebitis
  • Smoking enhances the chances of phlebitis. Use of birth control bills along with cigarette smoking increases the risk of thromboembolismmanifold
  • Some types of cancers which causes anomalies in the coagulation system increases the vulnerability, while certain types of cancers with hyper clotting conditionscan increase the risk to phlebitis.

Phlebitis Treatment

The type of treatment for phlebitis depends on the various factors such as location, symptoms, severity, and the medical disorders already affecting the patient.

The medical treatment of phlebitis for upper and lower extremities are:

  • Keeping the affected limb on elevated climbing position to help the free flow of blood
  • Application of warm water compresses
  • Physical therapy
  • Sessions of brisk walking
  • For removing the inflammation, anti-inflammatory medicines may be administered orally and topically.
  • Blood thinning technique treatments are given for DVT
  • Patients who are experience secondary infections of phlebitis abnormalities are to be given antibiotics. Surgical intervention is required for severely infected cases of thrombophlebitis.
  • If it is found that the use of internal catheter is the cause for phlebitis, its use should be stopped forthwith and a suitable alternative may be proposed.
  • Fitted stocking is recommended for patients who are suffering from the shallow phlebitis of the lower limbs.

Phlebitis Pictures

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