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Vascular Surgery

Possible phlebitis?

01/17/2007

Question:

I had an excisional biopsy (outpatient)to remove a mass in my breast a little over a week ago. It is the first surgery I ever had. When the IV was placed in my hand and the drip started (no medication, yet), there was a lot of burning (it went up my hand almost to my elbow). The nurse said it was probably because I wasn`t used to IV`s (although I`ve had IV`s when I delivered my children, and do not remember this happening). Anyway, the site of the IV was bruised/discolored for several days after surgery (which I had expected, as I bruise easily). However, a week after surgery, there was no discoloration left, and it looked and felt normal (only a slight mark where the IV had been inserted). Then, part way into the 7th day after surgery, all of a sudden my hand felt itchy and sore, and I looked down at my hand to see this big raised area along the vein that had been used for the IV. It was raised about an inch from the hand, was about 3/4 of an inch wide, and about one and one-half inches long. (It looked like a balloon that was being inflated... in fact, I wondered... if it keeps getting bigger - will it just pop like a balloon?). It was totally blue. I put ice on it, and eventually, the swelling went down. Now I have a larger bruise on my hand than the original bruise from the IV (it spreads across about 3/4 of the back of my hand), and it is tender along the vein. Is this normal, or should I be concerned about it? I don`t understand why it would be all healed, and suddenly swell up like it did.

Answer:

There may have been a phlebitis reaction or inflammation of the vein. This usually goes away on its own and requires no further treatment.

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Response by:

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