From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Classification and external resources
Veins in the popliteal area.
ICD-10 I80
ICD-9 451
DiseasesDB 13043
eMedicine emerg/581 emerg/582 med/3201
MeSH D010689

Phlebitis is the inflammation of a vein, usually in the legs. It most commonly occurs in superficial veins. Phlebitis often occurs in conjunction with thrombosis and is then called "thrombophlebitis" or "superficial thrombophlebitis" - an annoying but not harmful condition[1] (as opposed to deep vein thrombosis).

Signs and symptoms[edit]

  • Localized redness and swelling
  • Pain or burning along the length of the vein
  • Vein being hard and cord-like[2]


Phlebitis is typically caused by local trauma to a vein, usually from the insertion of an intravenous catheter.[3] However, phlebitis can also occur due to a complication of connective tissue disorders such as lupus, or of pancreatic, breast, or ovarian cancers. Phlebitis can also result from certain medications and drugs that irritate the veins.[4]

Superficial phlebitis often presents as an early sign in Thromboangiitis obliterans (Buerger's disease), a vasculitis that affects small and medium-sized arteries and veins in distal extremities often associated with cigarette smoking .[5]


Treatment usually consists of NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, and local compression (e.g., by compression stockings or a compress).[6] If the phlebitis is associated with local bacterial infection, antibiotics may be used.[7]


Phlebitis was first described by John Hunter in 1784.

Society and culture[edit]

  • The condition was detailed in The Dharma Bums and other writings by Beat author Jack Kerouac, who suffered from the disease possibly brought on by years of alcohol abuse.
  • In Henry Morton Robinson's best selling 1949 novel The Cardinal (later made into a motion picture by Otto Preminger), a severe case of phlebitis is a prominent plot device as sustained by the main protagonist Stephen Fermoyle.
  • In the Seinfeld episode "The Shower Head", Jerry's mother tells Jerry that Morty's "Phlebitis is acting up."
  • In The Simpsons episode "Bart Gets an F", the school nurse believes Bart has phlebitis.
  • In All in the Family episode "Too Good Edith", Edith has phlebitis.
  • Peter Boyle's character on Everybody Loves Raymond suffers from phlebitis. Or at least it is used as an excuse for getting out of undesirable family functions.
  • In King Of The Hill, when Mr. Strickland took Bible study classes in the pool with Luanne, Hank noted that it was "good for his phlebitis".
  • In the M*A*S*H episode "The Young and the Restless", Colonel Potter suffers through a bout of phlebitis, aggravated by his initial refusal to acknowledge his condition.
  • In Futurama, Richard Nixon's head reminisces about his "good Republican body" that was "riddled with phlebitis."
  • In Knute Rockne, All American, Rockne suffers from phlebitis. His doctor orders bed rest and blames the condition on continuing rough hits at football practice: "You're not a young man, anymore, Knute. You're 42."
  • In the 2009 film Frost/Nixon, Richard Nixon is taken into the hospital having suffered an attack of phlebitis.

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Benjamin Wedro. "Phlebitis Symptoms". emedicinehealth. Retrieved 13 May 2013. 
  3. ^ Benjamin Wedro. "Phlebitis Causes". emedicinehealth. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ Benjamin Wedro. "Phlebitis Treatment". emedicinehealth. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  7. ^ Benjamin Wedro. "Phlebitis Medical Treatment". emedicinehealth. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 

Additional references[edit]

  • Intravenous Infusion Therapy for Nurses (Second Edition) by Dianne L. Josephson (ISBN 1-4018-0935-9)
  • John Hunter, “Observations on the Inflammation of the Internal Coats of Veins,” Transactions of a Society for the Improvement of Medical and Chirurgical Knowledge, vol. 1 (London: 1793) pp. 18-29

External links[edit]