What to Know About Phleboliths

Medically Reviewed By Megan Soliman, MD

Phleboliths are small calcium deposits that can build up in the veins. They may not cause noticeable symptoms but can lead to tenderness and swelling. Generally, researchers don’t fully understand what causes phleboliths.

However, when necessary, treatment to remove phleboliths can still be effective at stopping symptoms and preventing further health effects.

This article discusses the symptoms, causes, and treatment of phleboliths.

Symptoms

A network of trees and branches intertwine in front of a red background.
Dominic Dähncke/Stocksy United

In some cases, phleboliths may not cause Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source noticeable symptoms. However, sometimes phleboliths can cause:

  • tenderness in the affected area
  • skin discoloration
  • swelling
  • nausea
  • rarely Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source , a lump-like lesion that you can feel

Phleboliths often develop in the pelvic, head, or neck areas.

Contact a doctor if you have new or persistent symptoms of phleboliths, such as pain or swelling.

Causes and risk factors

Phleboliths occur when calcium builds up in the veins, forming hard, stone-like deposits. As time goes on, more phleboliths may develop Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source .

Often, doctors are unsure of the cause. However, some phleboliths may occur from certain underlying health conditions and factors, including Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source :

  • venous malformation, when the veins don’t develop typically and may have an unusual or tangled structure, which can be present from birth
  • diverticulitis
  • previous injury or lesions to the veins
  • chronic kidney disease
  • diabetes
  • aging
  • hemodialysis treatment

Still, phleboliths often occur without a known cause, so no other known risk factors or prevention methods for them exist yet.

While phleboliths may develop from calcium deposits, they can develop even without high calcium levels in the blood.

Diagnosis

Doctors may start diagnosis by asking about your symptoms and medical history. They may also perform a physical exam.

Sometimes, phleboliths can resemble other conditions, such as tonsil or kidney stones. They can also vary in appearance during imaging scans. This is why your medical team may need to perform multiple tests or rounds of diagnosis and ask further questions about your health and symptoms.

Tests and exams to help identify or rule out possible causes of your symptoms include Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source :

  • imaging scans, such as:
  • blood tests
  • urine tests

On the other hand, if phleboliths don’t cause symptoms, you may only learn you have phleboliths by coincidence, such as after having an imaging scan for another reason.

Treatment

Treatment can depend on the severity of the phleboliths and factors such as:

  • the location and accessibility of the phlebolith
  • your age
  • whether you have cosmetic concerns due to symptoms
  • a risk of complications

If your medical team finds small phleboliths that don’t cause symptoms and may not have other effects on your health, doctors may recommend monitoring at first.

Doctors can treat Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source large or severe phleboliths with sclerotherapy, which involves injecting a solution to close off the affected vein. They can also treat phleboliths with surgical excision, which involves cutting the skin to remove them from the vein.

If you have pain or swelling while waiting for treatment, talk with a doctor for advice on managing symptoms. They may recommend solutions such as prescription or over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications.

Learn more about sclerotherapy, including its procedure, preparation, and risks.

Outlook

The outlook of phleboliths can vary per person and depend on the severity of the phlebolith.

In some cases, phleboliths can lead to complications such as hemorrhage or severe bleeding. However, treatment can be effective at removing phleboliths and reducing risk.

Talk with your doctor for personalized advice about treatment and outlook.

Summary

Phleboliths are calcium deposits that build up in the veins. Most often, the cause isn’t known. However, some cases might happen from conditions such as venous malformation, chronic kidney disease, and diverticulitis.

Frequently, phleboliths don’t cause noticeable symptoms. Instead, doctors may find them by coincidence during an imaging scan. However, some people have tenderness and swelling due to phleboliths.

Doctors can treat large or severe phleboliths by removing them or closing off the affected vein.

Talk with your doctor if you have symptoms of phleboliths or questions.

Was this helpful?
5

Medical Reviewer: Megan Soliman, MD
Last Review Date: 2024 Jan 24
View All Kidneys and the Urinary System Articles
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.