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The term phlebitis refers to the forming of a blood clot (thrombosis) that obstructs partly or entirely the blood flow in a vein, most often in a leg vein.
It can affect either a superficial or a deep vein. If the clot is formed in a deep vein, a medical treatment MUST be provided quickly. Indeed, there is a risk for the clot to move and obstruct the blood flow to the lungs ; this is called a pulmonary embolism.
This is a very serious situation, occasionally fatal especially in case of recurrence, and often unnoticed.
Phlebitis often appear after a period of prolonged immobilization (after a surgical intervention, when wearing a plaster cast or after a long flight, etc).tc).
That is why all these situations require a preventive anticoagulant treatment, in the form of daily subcutaneous injections of low-molecular-weight heparin.
Superficial phlebitis :
Deep phlebitis :
WARNING. In case of swelling (oedema) or of sudden pain in the leg, one must avoid massaging the affected area. It might aggravate the situation.
WARNING. When such symptoms are present, consulting a doctor quickly is necessary to prevent pulmonary embolism. In order to confirm the diagnosis of a deep phlebitis, the doctor will perform a Venous Doppler Ultrasound – which is the reference examination.
Generally, the situation gets better in 1 or 2 weeks.