What is thrombophlebitis and how to treat it

20th December 2018 by Daryll Baker0
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Thrombophlebitis is the name given to inflammation of the wall of a vein associated with thrombosis. Blood clots are the cause of thrombophlebitis. The condition typically occurs in the legs but can also occur in the arms.

Thrombophlebitis can cause irritation and pain and may prevent the blood flowing freely in the veins.

How is thrombophlebitis diagnosed?

For thrombophlebitis to be diagnosed, a doctor will examine the legs and look for affected veins on the surface of the skin to determine whether the patient has superficial thrombophlebitis or deep vein thrombosis.

An ultrasound may be carried out over the surface of the leg to confirm whether the condition is thrombophlebitis or deep vein thrombosis.

Blood tests are also taken to check for D dimer, a naturally occurring, clot-dissolving substance, which is elevated in people with blood clots. However, elevated D dimer levels can be present with other conditions, so a blood test is by no means a conclusive way to diagnose thrombophlebitis.

Treatment for thrombophlebitis

Applying heat to the affected area can help ease the pain and discomfort of thrombophlebitis. As can elevating the leg and using an anti-inflammatory drug. Compression stockings can also be effective in the treatment of thrombophlebitis as they can help prevent swelling and reduce the chances of deep vein thrombosis complications occurring.

Blood-thinning medications can be prescribed to patients with thrombophlebitis to help prevent the clots becoming larger. Clot-dissolving medications can help dissolve the blood clots.

Varicose vein stripping can be used to surgically remove varicose veins that are causing recurrent thrombophlebitis. This form of treatment involves removing the veins through small incisions.

If you need more advice about thrombophlebitis, deep vein thrombosis and the different treatment options for these vascular conditions, get in touch with the vascular experts at The Vascular Consultancy.


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Daryll Baker is a Consultant Vascular Surgeon at the Royal Free Hospital London and Clinical Lead for North Central Region Vascular Services.

He read Medicine at Oxford University and trained in Vascular Surgery in Nottingham, London and Edinburgh. He obtained his research PhD from the University of Wales.

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