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Superficial Thrombophlebitis


  • Superficial (soo-per-FISH-al) thrombophlebitis (throm-bo-fle-BEYE-tis), also called STP, is a condition where there is inflammation (swelling) in the superficial veins. The superficial veins (blood vessels just under the skin) bring blood from your body back to your heart. STP occurs when a blood clot forms inside a superficial vein causing it to become inflamed or infected. STP often appears in the legs, but may also be seen in the arms. STP may happen after an injury to the vein or when there is a decrease in blood flow. Blood conditions that cause clots to form faster than normal may also lead to STP. Having varicose veins, not moving for long periods, or smoking may increase your risk of developing STP.
  • You may have redness, swelling, or pain in the area of the blood clot. The vein may feel tender or hard like a cord and the skin may feel hot or warm. You may also have a fever. A detailed health history and physical exam may help diagnose STP. Tests, such as blood tests or a doppler scan, may be done. Treatment of STP aims to treat the cause, stop the clot from getting bigger, and prevent further problems. This may include use of compression stockings, medicines, and procedures to remove or close varicose veins. With treatment, such as medicine, more serious problems of STP may be prevented, and your quality of life improved.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.


  • Some STP treatments cause side effects. You could bleed too much with surgery or get an infection. You may have numbness or bruising at the site where the vein was treated.
  • If left untreated, STP may cause further problems and may even be life-threatening. A blood clot can cause pain and swelling, and it can stop blood from flowing where it needs to go in your body. The blood clot can break loose and travel to your lungs or brain. A blood clot in your lungs can cause chest pain and trouble breathing. A blood clot in your brain can cause a stroke. These problems can be life-threatening. If the STP is due to infection, you could get blood poisoning. The success of treating STP is best when it is controlled and treated as soon as possible. Ask your caregiver if you are worried or have questions about your condition, care, or treatment.


Informed consent:

A consent form is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.


You may be given the following medicines:

  • NSAIDs: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medicine may decrease swelling and pain or fever. This medicine can be bought with or without a doctor's order. This medicine can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. Always read the medicine label and follow the directions on it before using this medicine.
  • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to help treat or prevent an infection caused by bacteria.
  • Clot busters: This medicine helps break apart clots. It is given IV and may be given at the same time as other blood thinners. This medicine could save your life because blood clots in the heart, lungs or brain can kill you. Be careful because you may bleed or bruise easily.
  • Medicines to treat pain, swelling, or fever: These medicines are safe for most people to use. However, they can cause serious problems when used by people with certain medical conditions. Tell caregivers if you have liver or kidney disease or a history of bleeding in your stomach.


  • Blood tests: You may need blood taken to give caregivers information about how your body is working. The blood may be taken from your hand, arm, or IV.
  • Doppler ultrasound: This is a test that uses sound waves to see your veins on a TV-like screen. A doppler ultrasound study may also be called a duplex scan. Caregivers look for clots in the veins near the area of your pain and redness. You also may be able to hear your blood flow during this test.

Treatment options:

Certain procedures may be done to treat large varicose veins that are causing STP. Your caregiver may inject a solution to close the vein. The vein may be tied off to stop blood from flowing through it. Surgery to remove long veins may also be done. Ask your caregiver for information about these procedures.

Vital signs:

Caregivers will check your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and temperature. They will also ask about your pain. These vital signs give caregivers information about your current health.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Superficial Thrombophlebitis (Inpatient Care)

Associated drugs

Micromedex® Care Notes