What are physical findings suggestive of superficial thrombophlebitis?

Updated: Feb 25, 2021
  • Author: Khanjan H Nagarsheth, MD, MBA; Chief Editor: Vincent Lopez Rowe, MD  more...
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Visual appearance is not a reliable guide to a peripheral venous condition, because the clinical findings of venous disease (erythema, edema, and pain) are common to many other entities. Swelling may result from acute venous obstruction (as in deep venous thrombosis [DVT]) or from deep or superficial venous reflux, or it may be caused by an unrelated disease condition, such as hepatic insufficiency, renal failure, cardiac decompensation, infection, trauma, or environmental effects. Lymphedema may be primary or it may be secondary to overproduction of lymph due to severe venous hypertension.

Normal veins are distended visibly at the foot, the ankle, and, occasionally, the popliteal fossa, but not in the rest of the leg. Normal veins may be visible as a blue, subdermal, reticular pattern, but dilated superficial leg veins above the ankle usually are evidence of venous pathology.

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