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.
Phlegmasia cerulea dolens is preceded by a condition called phlegmasia alba dolens. This occurs when the leg is swollen and white due to a clot in a deep vein that blocks blood flow.
Severe pain, rapid swelling, and bluish-skin coloring affect the area below the blocked vein.
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.
Seek medical help right away if an arm or leg is severely swollen, blue, or painful.
Reviewed By: Richard LoCicero, MD, private practice specializing in hematology and medical oncology, Longstreet Cancer Center, Gainesville, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.