Phlebitis is a general term that describes inflammation of a vein (phleb=vein + it is=inflammation). When the cause of inflammation is a blood clot or thrombus, the condition is called thrombophlebitis. Other than blood clot, an infection can also cause inflammation of the veins. There are two general types of thrombophlebitis: a superficial condition that is painful but not life-threatening; and deep thrombophlebitis, a potentially serious condition involving an interior blood vessel.
Veins close to the body are called superficial veins. They are different from deep veins which are far from the surface. Superficial veins are physiologically important for cooling the body. When too hot, the body shunts the blood from deep veins to superficial veins to facilitate heat transfer to the surroundings.
On the other hand, a deep vein is a vein that is deep in the body. This contrasts with superficial veins that are close to the body's surface. Unlike superficial veins, deep veins are almost always beside an artery with same name and they carry the vast majority of the blood.
Superficial phlebitis is phlebitis that is in a superficial vein under the surface of the skin. Deep vein thrombophlebitis refers to a blood clot causing phlebitis in the deeper veins. Deep vein thrombophlebitis is also referred to as deep venous thrombophlebitis, deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
A deep tissue thrombophlebitis occurs due to a bacterial infection.causing clinical signs of sepsis (presence of bacteria and toxins in tissue) It is characterized by a clot or thrombus formed in one part of the body breaks free and migrates to another blood vessel, where it causes blockage.
Localized inflammation, characterized by warmth, swelling, pain, hardened vessels, or a redness of the skin known as erythema, is the most common sign of phlebitis. Presence of any two of the above signs signals local inflammation. Additionally, fever and drainage may also be present as body's response to this condition.