Great saphenous vein thrombosis occurs when a blood clot blocks one of your great saphenous veins. Only rarely does it travel to your lungs, possibly causing a dangerous pulmonary embolism.
Your great saphenous veins are the longest veins in your body. You have one in each leg. They return blood from your feet and legs and send it to your femoral veins in your thighs.
Doctors may treat great saphenous vein thrombosis with a combination of medications to break up the blood clot or recommend conservative remedies such as compression socks.
Serious complications are rare, but it’s important to visit your doctor any time you suspect you may have saphenous vein thrombosis.
Read on to learn more about great saphenous vein thrombosis including risk factors, symptoms, and treatment options.
Great saphenous vein thrombosis is a blood clot in your great saphenous vein. It’s considered a type of superficial thrombophlebitis, also called superficial vein thrombosis. Superficial thrombophlebitis is a blood clot in a vein near the surface of your skin.
Superficial thrombophlebitis is a fairly common condition that’s usually a complication of varicose veins. About 3% to 11% of people experience superficial vein thrombosis at some point, and about 60% to 80% of cases occur in the great saphenous vein.
Great saphenous vein thrombosis is often self-limiting but still requires immediate medical attention to help avoid potentially serious complications.
Risk factors for superficial thrombophlebitis include:
- advanced age
- previous thrombosis
- oral contraceptive use
- hormone replacement therapy
- recent surgery
- autoimmune disease
Blood clots that form in deeper veins are known as deep vein thrombosis. About a
- scaling skin
A superficial or deep vein thrombosis that becomes dislodged and travels to your lungs is called a pulmonary embolism. Pulmonary embolism occurs in about 4% of people with superficial thrombophlebitis.
Superficial vein thrombosis is about 2 to 3 times more common than pulmonary embolism and deep vein thrombosis combined.
Thrombosis of your great saphenous vein is often characterized by the following:
You may also see a hard cord under the surface of your skin that hurts when you touch it.
It’s important to visit a doctor or the emergency room right away for prompt medical attention if you develop any potential symptoms of great saphenous vein thrombosis.
To start the diagnostic process, a doctor will examine the affected part of your skin and review your personal and family medical history.
The diagnosis for superficial thrombophlebitis has traditionally been largely clinical, meaning a doctor makes the diagnosis by considering your signs and symptoms.
Doctors now usually perform compression ultrasound to:
- confirm the diagnosis
- measure the extent of your blood clot
- differentiate from a deep vein thrombosis
- find a co-occurring deep vein thrombosis, which can occur in
nearly a quarterof people.
A doctor may also perform a blood test to look for elevated levels of a substance called D-dimer. Most people with a blood clot have high levels of this protein fragment in their blood. However, a D-dimer test has limited benefit since it
Your doctor may want to test you for cancer if you’re under the
Risk of deep vein thrombosis
|Age over 50
|Rope-like appearance to skin
|No provoking incident
Your chances of having a deep vein thrombosis depend on your point score:
|Less than 0
|0 to 1
|1.5 or higher
Superficial thrombophlebitis below your knee generally doesn’t need aggressive treatment, and there remains some debate over the best way to manage it. Treatment options include:
- aspirin therapy
- warm and cold compresses
- compression socks
- increased bodily movement
- anticoagulation medications
- oral or topical non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
Your doctor will likely recommend anticoagulation medication if you also have deep vein thrombosis or if your blood clot is at a high risk of migrating through your bloodstream.
Compression socks or stockings are often recommended for preventing superficial vein thrombosis, but there’s mixed evidence supporting their benefit.
According to a
Great saphenous vein thrombosis is when a blood clot blocks one of your great saphenous veins. These blood vessels are the longest veins in your body.
Most cases of great saphenous vein thrombosis resolve with medications and other conservative treatments. It’s still important to seek medical attention anytime you suspect you may have a blood clot. In rare cases, the blood clot can reach your lungs and cause a potentially life-threatening complication called pulmonary embolism.