Superficial thrombophlebitis

Dr Patrick J Rock and Dr Bruno Di Muzio et al.

Superficial thrombophlebitis, also called superficial venous thrombosis (SVT), is a pathological condition characterized by the presence of a thrombus in the lumen of a superficial vein, accompanied by inflammatory reaction of adjacent tissues.

Some authors, however, reserve the term superficial venous thrombosis to the situation when there is thrombosis of a superficial vein without any associated inflammatory component 3.

Typically presentations include:

  • tender erythematous areas overlying a superficial vein
    • may be warm to touch
    • there may be palpable mass and surrounding edema
  • visible distension of the vein proximal to the thrombosis
  • there may be signs of chronic venous disease: visible varicosities, skin pigmentation, or palpable cords

Like deep vein thrombosis (DVT), its occurrence is also related to the Virchow's triad.

There are a large number of potential causes which does overlap with the causes of DVT 4:

  • varicose veins (most common)
    • morphological changes that predispose to stasis and consequently to the development of thrombotic process
  • prolonged immobilization
  • surgery/trauma
  • obesity
  • hypercoagulable states, e.g. factor V Leiden thrombophilia 5
  • oral contraceptive use
  • past history SVT or DVT
  • intravenous cannula use
  • malignancies (see: Trousseau syndrome)
  • autoimmune disease
  • inflammatory conditions, in particular, Behcet disease and Buerger disease

Article information

rID: 19801
System: Vascular
Section: Gamuts
Tag: veins
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Superficial venous thrombosis
  • SVT
  • Superficial venous thrombosis (SVT)
  • Superficial vein thrombosis
  • Superficial venous thrombophlebitis
  • Superficial vein thrombophlebitis (SVTP)

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Cases and figures

  •  Case 1
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  •  Case 2
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  • Case 3
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  • Case 4
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