Birth Definitions

Thrombophlebitis Definition


Thrombophlebitis is a condition that involves the formation of a blood clot in a vein. This can occur in any vein, but is most common in the veins of the legs. Symptoms of thrombophlebitis include pain, swelling, warmth, and redness over the affected area. The condition is usually treated with anticoagulant medication and compression stockings. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove the clot.

Thrombophlebitis is a relatively common condition and can happen for many reasons, but pregnancy and childbirth are two of the most common. The condition occurs when the veins in the leg are under increased pressure from the weight of the pregnancy, and from prolonged lying down during recovery from the cesarean section. This can cause the veins to become irritated and inflamed, which can lead to the formation of a blood clot. Although thrombophlebitis is not usually serious, it can be painful and uncomfortable. In some cases, the clot can cause blockages in the veins and can lead to more serious complications such as pulmonary embolism (PE).

Risk Factors and Complications

There are several risk factors for thrombophlebitis during pregnancy. These include being overweight or obese, having diabetes, high blood pressure, or a history of blood clots. Additionally, women who are pregnant with twins or more are at higher risk. 

The most common complication of thrombophlebitis is pulmonary embolism. This occurs when a clot breaks free and travels to the lungs, where it can block an artery and cause serious damage or even death. Other potential complications include deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which is when a clot forms in a deep vein, and post-thrombotic syndrome (PTS), which is a condition that can occur after DVT.


The best way to prevent thrombophlebitis is to keep your legs elevated when you are pregnant. This will help to reduce the pressure on your veins and reduce your risk of developing the condition. If you do develop thrombophlebitis, it is important to seek treatment early to reduce your risk of developing PE.

While thrombophlebitis is a serious condition, it is important to remember that it is also relatively rare. Most women who experience thrombophlebitis during pregnancy will have no long-term complications. However, it is still important to be aware of the signs and symptoms so that you can seek treatment if necessary.

Other Related Terms

There are a number of terms that are closely related to thrombophlebitis. These include venous thromboembolism (VTE), deep vein thrombosis (DVT), and superficial thrombophlebitis. VTE is a more serious condition that can occur when a blood clot from thrombophlebitis breaks free and travels to the lungs, where it can block an artery and cause a PE. DVT is a similar condition that occurs when a blood clot forms in a deep vein, usually in the leg. Superficial thrombophlebitis is a less serious form of thrombophlebitis that affects only the surface veins.

This image shows how often the term ‘Thrombophlebitis’ is used in relation to other, similar birth terms:

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