Which clinical history findings are characteristic of 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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Superficial septic phlebitis most often begins with a localized break in the skin, such as placement of an intravenous catheter, a puncture wound, an insect bite, a phlebotomy attempt, or an intravenous injection. Tenderness and erythema are often apparent at the initial site of infection. The original portal of entry may become less obvious over time, as pain, tenderness, swelling, and redness spread along the entire course of the infected vessel.

Baker et al, in a review of 100 patients with peripheral septic phlebitis, reported that 83% of patients note pain as the presenting complaint. Fever occurred in 44%, swelling in 37%, and spontaneous drainage of pus in 9%. [4] Intravenous drug abusers often have localized areas of cellulitis or even frank abscesses at the sites of injection.

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