THROMBOPHLEBITIS, SUPERFICIAL (Phlebitis; Phlebothrombosis)
DESCRIPTIONSuperficial thrombophlebitis is inflammation and small blood clots in a superficial vein, usually caused by infection or injury. This type of inflammation seldom causes clots to break loose and flow in the bloodstream, as does deep-vein thrombosis. Superficial veins, usually in the legs, are involved. Superficial thrombophlebitis can affect both sexes, all ages, but is most common in adult females.
Appropriate health care includes:
Physician's monitoring of general condition and medications, which sometimes includes sclerosing injections into tiny veins.
Self-care after diagnosis.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMSHardness of a superficial vein (feels like a cord).
Redness, tenderness, and pain in the affected area.
CAUSESInjury to the vein's membrane lining from injections. This allows bacteria to enter.
Spread of malignant blood cancer.
Pooling of blood following surgery or prolonged bed rest.
Increased fibrin and clotting of red blood cells in a vein due to:
RISK FACTORSIllness with prolonged bed confinement.
Use of birth-control pills. The combination of birth-control pills and smoking greatly increases the risk.
PREVENTING COMPLICATIONS OR RECURRENCEInstructions for your child:
Don't smoke if you take birth-control pills.
If confined to bed for any reason, move your legs as much as possible to prevent pooling of blood in the veins.
Don't use any drug intravenously, if you can avoid it.
Your own observation of symptoms.
Medical history and physical exam by a doctor.
Laboratory blood studies, if the cause is not immediately apparent.
POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONSEmbolism, in which part of the clot breaks off and travels through the child's bloodstream, lodging in the lung or elsewhere (extremely rare).
Usually curable in 2 weeks.
HOME CAREInstructions for your child:
Stop smoking and stop taking birth-control pills. If you continue both, the next episode of vein clots may be a dangerous, deep-vein clot.
Wear elastic stockings or wrapped elastic bandages to hasten the blood flow through the veins, relieving discomfort and helping prevent further clot formation. Don't wear garters or knee-high hosiery.
To relieve pain, use wrapped soaks.
MEDICATIONNon-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to decrease the child's inflammation and pain.
Antibiotics, if bacterial infection is suspected (rare).
See Medications section for information regarding medicines your doctor may prescribe.
Your doctor may prescribe:
Bed rest with the affected limb elevated may be helpful for 1 or 2 days. Encourage your child to move the feet, ankles, and legs often. When the inflammation begins to subside, the child can resume normal activity slowly. The child should rest often, being careful not to sit or stand for prolonged periods, nor to cross legs.
DIET & FLUIDS
No special diet.
OK TO GO TO SCHOOL?When appetite has returned and alertness, strength, and feeling of well-being will allow.
CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF
Your child has symptoms of superficial thrombophlebitis.
The following occurs during treatment:
-- Fever of 102F (38.9C) or higher.
-- Intolerable pain.
-- Coughing blood.
-- Shortness of breath.
-- Chest pain.
New, unexplained symptoms develop. Drugs used in treatment may produce side effects.