Thrombophlebitis is inflammation of the return blood vessels (veins) that trigger the formation of blood clots in one or more veins. Generally, thrombophlebitis occurs in veins in the legs, but does not rule out the possibility that this condition can also occur in veins in the arms.

Thrombophlebitis can occur in veins close to the skin ( superficial thrombophlebitis ) or in deeper veins ( deep vein thrombosis ). However, this article will limit the discussion on superficial thrombophlebitis , or simply called thrombophlebitis.

Causes of Thrombophlebitis

Thrombophlebitis is caused by the formation of blood clots. This can happen due to several things, such as:

  • Blood clotting disorders passed down from parents, for example protein C deficiency
  • Injury to the veins due to the installation of a blood vessel catheter or pacemaker
  • Not moving for a long time, for example sitting in a car or plane on a long journey, or lying down for too long due to pain (for example stroke )

Thrombophlebitis Risk Factors

The risk of thrombophlebitis in a person can increase if there are some of the following factors:

  • Aged 60 years and above
  • Are pregnant or have just given birth
  • Have had previous thrombophlebitis
  • Using a pacemaker or catheter inserted into the central vein
  • Experiencing hormonal changes, for example due to undergoing hormone replacement therapy or taking birth control pills
  • Experiencing dehydration (lack of fluid), so that the blood vessels become narrow and the blood thickens
  • Having a history of blood clotting disorders , both personally and in the family
  • Being overweight
  • Smoking
  • Ever had a stroke
  • Suffering from cancer

Symptoms of Thrombophlebitis

Symptoms and signs of thrombophlebitis appear in the part of the body where the veins are inflamed. Signs and symptoms include:

  • Swelling
  • Prominence of venous blood vessels on the surface of the skin
  • Skin that is red and feels warm to the touch
  • Pain that worsens when pressed

When should you go to the doctor?

Immediately check with a doctor if the above symptoms appear, especially if you have risk factors for thrombophlebitis. Treatment should be given immediately if the pain and swelling in the veins is severe enough.

Thrombophlebitis can cause pulmonary embolism . Immediately go to the nearest hospital IGD if you experience symptoms such as:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing blood

Diagnosis of Thrombophlebitis

The doctor will first ask about symptoms, previous illness history, and the patient's family health history. After that, the doctor will perform a physical examination to see blood vessels affected by thrombophlebitis.

Further, the doctor will suggest a series of more detailed examinations, such as:

  • Blood test, to measure the level of D-dimer , which is a protein formed when blood clots break down
  • USG , to ensure that the patient's complaints are caused by thrombophlebitis, not deep vein thrombosis
  • Venography (X-ray with the help of contrast liquid), to find out the condition of blood flow in the veins
  • CT scan, if the doctor suspects there are symptoms of pulmonary embolism
  • MR angiography (MRI with the help of contrast liquid), to see the condition of blood vessels

Treatment of Thrombophlebitis

Thrombophlebitis that occurs under the surface of the skin ( superficial ) can be treated independently at home. The trick is to do the following simple steps:

  • Taking nonsteroidal anti- inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Compress the sore area with warm water 2-3 times a day
  • Placing the sore leg in a higher position while sleeping or sitting
  • Use compression stockings to improve blood flow to the legs and relieve swelling

However, if in 1 week the condition does not improve or worsens, the doctor can suggest some of the following treatment methods:

  • Administration of blood thinners ( anticoagulants ), such as heparin or warfarin, to prevent blood clots from growing
  • Administration of drugs that destroy blood clots or thrombolysis, such as alteplase
  • Installing a filter or screen in the large vein (vena cava) located in the stomach, to prevent pulmonary embolism
  • Surgery to remove varicose veins , to relieve pain and prevent recurrent thrombophlebitis

Complications of Thrombophlebitis

Although rare, thrombophlebitis can cause a number of the following complications:

  • Pulmonary embolism, which is a blood clot that blocks the arterial blood vessels in the lungs and causes a life-threatening condition
  • Post -thrombotic syndrome ( PTS), which is a condition that appears several months or years after a patient has suffered from thrombophlebitis, is characterized by severe pain accompanied by swelling and heaviness in the affected limb.

Prevention of Thrombophlebitis

There are a number of ways that can be done to prevent thrombophlebitis, namely:

  • Actively moving
  • Walk at least once an hour if you have a job that requires you to sit for a long time
  • Avoid the use of tight clothing
  • Consume enough water to avoid dehydration
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