Inflammation of a vein is called Phlebitis. Thrombophlebitis occurs when inflammation of the vein causes a blood clot. Phlebitis is usually superficial in nature, causes redness on the skin, or can be deep, in the veins inside the muscle.
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 DVT or deep vein thrombosis.
The presence of superficial phlebitis does not necessary suggest an underlying DVT, however you should have an ultrasound just to make sure. Upper extremity (upper limbs) and lower extremities (lower limbs) superficial thrombosis or phlebitis are typically benign conditions and have a favorable prognosis. A blood clot (thrombus) in the saphenous vein is the exception because the saphenous vein connects directly into the common femoral vein. This is the large, long vein on the inner side of the legs. Thrombophlebitis in the saphenous vein can sometimes be associated with underlying deep vein thrombophlebitis.
On the other hand, deep vein thrombosis of the upper and lower extremities is a serious problem that can lead to serious injury and even death.