To diagnose thrombophlebitis, your doctor will ask you about the discomfort you've had and then look for any affected veins near the surface of your skin. To determine whether you have superficial thrombophlebitis or deep vein thrombosis, your doctor may choose one of these tests:
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- Blood test. Almost everyone with a blood clot has an elevated blood level of a naturally occurring, clot-dissolving substance called D dimer. But D dimer levels can be elevated in other conditions, too. So a test for D dimer isn't conclusive, but may indicate the need for further testing. It's also useful for ruling out deep vein thrombosis and for identifying people at risk of developing thrombophlebitis repeatedly.
- Ultrasound. A wand-like device (transducer) moved over the affected area of your leg sends sound waves into your leg. As the sound waves travel through your leg tissue and reflect back, a computer transforms the waves into a moving image on a video screen. A clot may be visible in the image.
- CT scan. Computerized tomography (CT) scan can provide visual images of your lungs and may show if a clot is present.
- Torpy JM, et al. Thrombophlebitis. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2011;305:1372.
- Deep vein thrombosis. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/dvt/printall-index.html. Accessed Oct. 3, 2013.
- Venous thromboembolism diagnosis and treatment. Bloomington, Minn.: Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement. https://www.icsi.org/guidelines__more/catalog_guidelines_and_more/catalog_guidelines/catalog_cardiovascular_guidelines/vte_treatment/. Accessed Oct. 3, 2013.
- Fernandez L, et al. Superficial thrombophlebitis of the lower extremity. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Oct. 3, 2013.
- Deep vein thrombosis (DVT). The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Health Care Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/cardiovascular_disorders/peripheral_venous_disorders/deep_venous_thrombosis_dvt.html. Accessed Oct. 3, 2013.
- Antithrombotic therapy and prevention of thrombosis, 9th ed. Northbrook, Ill.: American College of Chest Physicians. http://journal.publications.chestnet.org/article.aspx?articleid=1159399. Accessed Oct. 3, 2013.
- Di Nisio M, et al. Treatment for superficial thrombophlebitis of the leg. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD004982.pub5/abstract. Accessed Oct. 3, 2013.
- McBane RD (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Oct. 11, 2013.
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