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.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Seek medical help right away if an arm or leg is severely swollen, blue, or painful.
Deep vein thrombosis - Phlegmasia cerulea dolens; DVT - Phlegmasia cerulea dolens; Phlegmasia alba dolens
Johanning J, Thompson JR, Lynch TG. Clinical evaluation of the venous and lymphatic systems. In: Sidawy AN, Perler BA, eds. Rutherford's Vascular Surgery and Endovascular Therapy, 2-Volume Set. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2023:chap 20.
Kabrhel C. Pulmonary embolism and deep vein thrombosis. In: Walls RM, ed. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2023:chap 74.
Review Date 1/25/2022
Updated by: Todd Gersten, MD, Hematology/Oncology, Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, Wellington, FL. 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.