Phlebitis and Thrombophlebitis (cont.)
Siamak T. Nabili, MD, MPH
Dr. Nabili received his undergraduate degree from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), majoring in chemistry and biochemistry. He then completed his graduate degree at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). His graduate training included a specialized fellowship in public health where his research focused on environmental health and health-care delivery and management.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- What is phlebitis and thrombophlebitis?
- What causes phlebitis?
- What are the risk factors for phlebitis?
- What are the symptoms of phlebitis?
- How is phlebitis diagnosed?
- How is phlebitis treated?
- What are the complications of phlebitis?
- Can phlebitis be prevented?
- Phlebitis At A Glance
- Find a local Internist in your town
What causes phlebitis?
Phlebitis has many causes. Some of the common causes of phlebitis are:
- local trauma or injury to the vein
- prolonged inactivity, such as, long driving or plane rides
- insertion of intravenous catheters (IV) in hospitals, or IV induced
- period after a surgery (post-operative period), especially orthopedic
- prolonged immobility, as in hospitalized or bed-ridden patients
- varicose veins
- underlying cancers or clotting disorders
- disruption of normal venous system drainage because of removal of lymph
nodes, for example, after mastectomy for
- intravenous drug use
- patients with burns
What are the risk factors for phlebitis?
- One of the common risk factors for
phlebitis is a trauma. For example, a trauma or an injury to the arm or leg can cause an injury the underlying vein
resulting in inflammation or phlebitis.
- Prolonged immobility is another common risk factor for
phlebitis. Blood that is stored in the veins of the lower extremities normally
is pumped toward the heart by the contraction of the lower leg muscles. If the
muscle contraction is
limited due to prolonged (hours) immobility by sitting on a plane or a car, the
blood in the veins can become stagnant and clot formation can result in
- Hormone therapy (HT),
birth control pills, and
increase the risk for developing thrombophlebitis.
- Cigarette smoking is another risk factor for thrombophlebitis. Smoking in
combination with birth control pills can substantially increase the risk of
- Obesity is also a risk factor for thrombophlebitis.
- Certain cancers are known to increase the risk of clot formation (referred to as a hyper-coagulable state) by causing abnormalities in the normal clotting system (coagulation pathway). Some cancers with hypercoagulable state cause phlebitis or thrombophlebitis.
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