Which clinical history findings are characteristic of thrombophlebitis?

Updated: Aug 31, 2020
  • Author: Padma Chitnavis, MD; Chief Editor: Dirk M Elston, MD  more...
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Symptoms potentially caused by venous thrombosis are generally nonspecific.

In superficial thrombophlebitis, acute-onset pain and swelling usually occur over a previous varicose vein. At times, this pain and swelling, which is often associated with warm erythema, can appear even without an obvious underlying varicosity. Swelling and pain in an upper extremity are suggestive of thrombosis. Pain associated with SVT is usually localized over the site of thrombosis. Pain associated with DVT is generally more diffuse and more common in the lower extremities than elsewhere.

Recent surgery (especially orthopedic surgery), trauma, immobilization, or prolonged bed rest are factors that can contribute to SVT or DVT.

Inquire about a history or symptoms suggestive of heart disease or congestive heart failure; relevant findings include dizziness, bilateral extremity swelling, and weight gain.

Inquire about a history of previous thrombosis.

Obtain a thorough family history.

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