Phlebitis is not a commonly known condition, so it is highly unlikely you would be able to recognise the symptoms or be aware of the serious implications this condition can have if misdiagnosed or left untreated.
Phlebitis is the clotting of blood within the veins underneath the surface of the skin, almost always in varicose veins that have not been treated. These blood clots can cause the vein to become inflamed, often leading to redness, tenderness and swelling in the leg.
Phlebitis is NOT an infection – and so antibiotics have no effect on it. Indeed, as it is a clot, it is more correctly called “superficial venous thrombosis”.
However, published guidelines from the USA and the UK show that if the clot is near the deep vein, there is approximately a 1% risk of the clot going to the lung – a condition called pulmonary embolism.
Please see the references:
Some of the main signs and symptoms to look out for are:
Phlebitis is not an infection and therefore antibiotics should not be prescribed as a treatment.
Most patients with Phlebitis are not at risk of Pulmonary Emboli. However some are. It depends on where the clot is in the vein. The only way to confidently diagnose Phlebitis is for the patient to have a Duplex Ultrasound Scan. This should be performed by a qualified Vascular Technologist who specialises in the diagnosis and treatment of veins.
Only once this scan has been completed, is it possible to make sure that the correct treatment plan is started. This might be non-steroidal anti-inflammatory tablet and stockings, but it might be anticoagulation if the clot is within 5 cm of the deep veins.
This duplex ultrasound scan can also be used to find out the underlying cause of the Phlebitis. The underlying cause is usually varicose veins or ‘hidden varicose veins’.
For more information about phlebitis and how it can be diagnosed and treated, please see the information on our website. Alternatively, contact us using the contact form, email at [email protected] or call us on 0330 058 1850