What is superficial thrombophlebitis?


Superficial thrombophlebitis of the legs is a condition where there is inflammation of superficial, as opposed to deep veinsof the lower extremities.

Superficial thrombophlebitis can occur in any superficial vein segment along the greater or lesser saphenous system. Patients experience pain and tenderness along the course of the vein - in the case of the great saphenous vein, it can be anywhere alng a line that connects the groin to the ankle. The skin overlying the varicose vein  usually is warm to the touch, red and tender. 

The significance of the phlebitis is that it can get quite symptomatic and painful - even trivial movement can trigger significant discomfort along these tender areas of the phlebitic vein and its branches.

Localized injury to the saphenous vein could be the inciting cause and/or some underlying thrombogenic disorder. Sometimes it occurs spontaneously without any discernable cause (idiopathic).

Treatment is with warm compresses or heating pads and taking antiinflammatory medications for 10-14 days.

Superficial thrombophlebitis of the great saphenous vein is only dangerous if the inflammation extends into the deep veins at the level of the groin, namely into the common femoral vein with thrombus (or clot) embolizing to the lungs (pulmonary emolism).

Article by
Buffalo Phlebologist