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Vascular Surgery

Thrombophlebitis with infection

07/05/2006

Question:

I am wondering if I may have permanent damage resulting from deep vein thrombophlebitis and an infection. In November of 2004 I was in the emergency room with symptoms mimicking MS. The doctor wanted to do an MRI to rule MS out, but I am very claustrophobic. In order to perform the MRI immediately, intraveneous medication was distributed to relax me. As soon as the IV needle was inserted, I was in PAIN. I alerted the nurse but she sent me off to the MRI unit anyway. After the MRI I told some medical practitioners about the pain at the site of the IV. At that time they stated that it was probably due to the medication administered. I did not agree because the med was given to me after the IV started hurting. I went back to a room and stayed there until the MRI could be read. I told the nurse again about the IV needle and she pulled it out. It hurt pretty bad when she did this and she started puching up and down on top of my hand. That hurt even more. The site would not stop bleeding. When it did finally stop, they sent me home. My friend,who is also an RN, drove me home as I slept some of the medication off. When I arrived at my house, my arm and hand were really sore. My husband looked at me as I took my coat off and couldn`t believe what my arm looked like. it was really swollen - like it didn`t belong on my body. I went to bed and when I woke up in the morning, I had a distint red line going up my arm from the IV site in my hand up to my bicep. I called the Blue Cross Blue Shield hotline and the nurse told me to go to the clinic ASAP. By the time I got there my arm looked like a baseball bat. The internal medicine doctor told me I had phlebitis and an infection. He performed ultrasounds to make sure there weren`t any clots in my neck and then put me on some medicine for the pain and infection. I was back in to see him after a week of pain and running a fever. He had to hospitalize me with IV antibiotics and pain killers. Three days I had to be in hospital because of this. Afterwards, when my arm and hand started healing, I had bumps all the way up my vein in my arm. A vascular surgeon told me they were clots and they should dissolve on their own without having to have the vein removed surgically. Now there are no bumps, but every time I try to lift a grocery sack or pull something heavy using this arm adn had, it swells up like a baloon and hurts. The vein has totally shut down in my hand and has tried to re-route itself under my wrist - which is pretty painful when this happens. I cannot do any washing dishes, painting, carrying, lawn mowing, etc with this hand or arm. What is your opinion on this? Do you think I may have permanent damage? I thought this would go away in time, but it has not.

Answer:

It would be unlikely to have permanent damage from with regard to veins. Superficial thrombophlebitis - inflammation and clotting of surface veins in the arms or legs - does not put you at risk for getting deep vein clots or clots that could go to your lungs. Since it has been over one year and you are still having pain, I would ask your primary care doctor about considering a referral to Neurology.

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Response by:

Amy B Reed, MD Amy B Reed, MD
No longer associated