[Acute superficial thrombophlebitis—therapeutic strategies]

T Noppeney, J Noppeney, M Winkler, I Kurth
Zentralblatt Für Chirurgie 2006, 131 (1): 51-6

UNLABELLED: Thrombophlebitis (TP) of the superficial venous system is associated to a high percentage with deep venous thrombosis (DVT). References in literature vary between 5 and 65 %, pulmonary embolisms (LE) were described in up to 33 %.

PATIENTS: In a retrospective study, 114 patients who had presented themselves with a TP of the superficial venous system between January 1 (st) and December 31 (st) 2004, were analysed in our institution. 50 % (n = 57) exhibited a TP in side branches of the superficial venous system. 19.3 % (n = 22) showed a TP of the great saphenous vein (GSV) of the calf or of the small saphenous vein (SSV) distally, in 28.1 % (n = 32) the GSV or SSV were affected at the thigh or proximally or in total length, 3 patients (2.6 %) exhibited a TP of the arm vein. 11 patients (9.6 %) showed a concomitant DVT. The frequency of DVT depended on the localisation and extension of the TP, and also on additional basic and acute risks for DVT. The incidence of a concomitant DVT was 5.2 % when side branches were affected and amounted to 15.6 % with TP in the area of the GSV or SSV. With varicosis as single risk factor, the frequency of a concomitant DVT was 6 %, varicosis combined with further risks showed a DVT frequency of 15.4 %.

RESULTS: All patients were treated with low molecular weight heparin either with prophylactic or therapeutic dosage, depending on localisation, extension and concomitant diseases. 10.5 % of the patients (n = 12) had to undergo urgent surgery with ligation of the sapheno-femoral junction or popliteal junction, if the TP had reached the junction into the deep venous system. By this therapy, we had not to observe any additional DVT. In 9 cases, an extension, respectively a recurrence of the TP could be observed. In each of these cases the dosage of the LMWH had not been adapted to the concomitant risks or had been terminated too early.

DISCUSSION: TP of the superficial venous system should be considered and treated as DVT. Consequent anticoagulation is needed, surgery should be performed when the TP reaches the junction into the deep venous system. The duration of the anticoagulation is not quite clear, but is carried out in our institution for three months with therapeutic intention.

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