What causes superficial septic thrombophlebitis?

Updated: Oct 05, 2021
  • Author: JE Robyn Hanna, MD, MS; Chief Editor: Jeter (Jay) Pritchard Taylor, III, MD  more...
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Answer

Placement of an intravascular catheter is the main causative factor in the development of phlebitis and septic thrombophlebitis. Infection can be introduced during the placement of the catheter or bacteria can colonize first the hub and then the lumen of the catheter before they gain access to the intravascular space. [13] Once inside the venous system, bacteria can proliferate, causing endothelial damage, local inflammation, and thrombosis.

Causative organisms are diverse and include skin and subcutaneous tissue pathogens, enteric bacteria, and flora causing infection in the genitourinary tract. The most common infective organism is Staphylococcus aureus, but coagulase-negative staphylococci, enteric gram-negative bacilli, and enterococci are also frequently implicated. [14]

Impaired local defense, as well as a heavy burden of skin inoculum, increase burn patients’ susceptibility to thrombophlebitis. These infections are often polymicrobial. [5] Steroid use [6] and injection drug use [4] are other important risk factors.


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