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Phlebitis is defined as the inflammation of a vein. Thrombophlebitis is a phlebitis associated with a blood clot. Phlebitis can affect veins near the surface of the skin (superficial phlebitis) or veins deeper within a muscle (DVP, Deep Vein Phlebitis). Any vein can be affected by a phlebitis but the legs are most often involved. Phlebitis is usually caused by an injury to the vein (surgery, catheter insertion) or any condition that reduces the blood flow in a vein: venous insufficiency, prolonged immobilisation (prolonged illness, long plane trip, etc.). Pregnancy, certain drugs and hereditary disorders of coagulation can also cause phlebitis. Some severe deep phlebitis will paradoxically not be accompanied by significant symptoms while warmth, pain, sensitivity, redness and swelling will be the hallmark of many benign superficial ones. In deep vein thrombophlebitis, there is risk that the blood clot (thrombus) becomes dislodged, can travel to the lungs and block an artery causing a pulmonary embolism. Rapid heart rate, marked shortness of breath are the most significant symptoms of pulmonary embolism, a medical emergency. The diagnosis of phlebitis is based on clinical observations completed for deep vein phlebitis by Doppler sonography and in some cases by measuring the blood level of clot fragments called D-dimers.

Term of the Week

Creatine Kinase MM (CK-MM)

CK (creatine kinase) is an enzyme (protein) found in several tissues, including muscles and the heart. Depending on the tissue, different forms of CK are present: CK-MM is primarily present in skeletal muscles, CK-MB represents 30% of CK from the heart, while CK-BB comes from the brain and smooth muscle, such as the intestinal walls. Atypical forms of CK (macro CK1 and macro CK2) can also be present. CK electrophoresis is most useful when muscular or cardiac disease does not seem to be responsible for the increased level of total CK.