Superficial thrombophlebitis

Last revised by Daniel J Bell on 28 Jun 2021

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 Virchow triad.

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

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