Saturday, July 9, 2016

Q: What is Phlegmasia cerulea dolens?

Answer:  Phlegmasia cerulea dolens, described more than 7 decades ago, refers to massive proximal (iliofemoral) venous thrombosis of the lower extremities with sudden severe leg pain, swelling, cyanosis, edema, compartment syndrome - resulting in circulatory collapse, shock, limb loss and death. This is a life and limb emergency. As arterial compromise turns leg white, it is also known as milk leg. Women in the third trimester of pregnancy or immediate postpartum are at particular risk.


1. Gregoire R. La phlebite bleue (phlegmasia caerulea dolens). Presse Med. 1938. 46:1313-5. 

2Sarwar S, Narra S, Munir A. Phlegmasia cerulea dolens. Tex Heart Inst J 2009; 36:76.

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