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Phlegmasia cerulea dolens

  • Definition
    • Phlegmasia cerulea dolens is an uncommon, severe form of deep venous thrombosis (blood clots in the vein). It most often occurs in the upper leg.

  • Alternative Names
    • Deep vein thrombosis - Phlegmasia cerulea dolens; DVT - Phlegmasia cerulea dolens; Phlegmasia alba dolens

  • Causes
    • Phlegmasia cerulea dolens is preceded by a condition called phlegmasia alba dolens. This is occurs when the leg is swollen and white due to a clot in a deep vein that blocks blood flow.

  • Symptoms
    • Pain, swelling, and bluish-skin coloring affect the area below the blocked vein.

  • Possible Complications
    • Continued clotting can lead to increased swelling. The swelling can interfere with blood flow. This complication is called phlegmasia alba dolens. It causes the skin to turn white. Phlegmasia alba dolens may lead to tissue death (gangrene) and the need for amputation.

  • When to Contact a Medical Professional
    • Seek medical help right away if an arm or leg is severely swollen, blue, or painful.

  • References
    • Ginsberg JS. Peripheral venous disease. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 81.

      Kline JA. Pulmonary embolism and deep vein thrombosis. In: Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 88.

      Lim W. Venous thromboembolism. In: Hoffman R, Benz EJ, Silberstein LE, Heslop HE, Weitz JI, Anastasi J, eds. Hematology: Basic Principles and Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2013:chap 144.