Phleboliths (vein stones): Calcified blood clots in veins

Phleboliths (vein stones) are small, round calcified blood clots found in a patient’s veins, usually the pelvic area. The benign vein stones are usually present at birth, but sometimes they indicate the presence of another condition. In most cases, vein stones do not cause any problems or cause any other symptoms. If pain does occur, various treatments are available.

  • Epidemiology of phleboliths
  • Causes of calcified blood clots in veins
  • Symptoms: Usually in vein walls around pelvic area
  • Diagnosis and examinations
  • Therapy
  • Self-care
  • Professional medical treatment
  • Prognosis of vein stones
  • Prevention of vein wall disorders


Epidemiology of phleboliths

Many adults have vein stones, especially those over forty. They appear at the same rate in men and women. The frequency increases with age.

Causes of calcified blood clots in veins

Phleboliths are a type of vascular calcification (calcification of blood clots). In October 2020, it is uncertain what the etiology of vein stones is. In most cases, vein stones are congenital, especially in patients with Maffucci syndrome (bone and skin abnormalities). Sometimes they develop later in life and indicate an underlying problem such as:

  • abnormalities in the veins or venous malformations, which slow blood flow and cause a build-up of calcium
  • constipation and pressure, causing damage to the veins in the pelvic area
  • diverticulitis
  • a liver disease
  • poor blood circulation
  • damage to the walls of the vein, for example due to an injury
  • varicose veins
  • tumors of the gastrointestinal tract or stomach cancer
  • little movement: immobilization after surgery, long car journeys, a lot of sitting


Symptoms: Usually in vein walls around pelvic area

Phleboliths are round groups of calcified blood clots. These develop in the vein walls, usually in the veins around the pelvic area. However, the vein stones also occur in the stomach, intestines, esophagus and kidneys. Vein stones are variable in size, but they are usually five millimeters wide. In most cases, symptoms do not develop in phleboliths. The doctor then discovers this accidentally during an X-ray or ultrasound to detect the cause of another problem.Depending on the size and location, symptoms such as:

  • constipation, when the vein stones are located in the pelvic area
  • mild pain in the area, sometimes also in the lower back (lower back pain) or lower abdomen; the pain is reminiscent of the pain of kidney stones (formation of crystals with pain in the abdomen and back)
  • redness to the affected area
  • varicose veins or blood clots, caused by reduced blood flow
  • dilated veins and swelling in the area
  • heat on the affected area


Diagnosis and examinations

The doctor detects the lumps via an X-ray or ultrasound, usually because the patient is having imaging tests done for another problem. They often appear as white or pale spots on X-rays of the pelvic area, which is why the doctor sometimes mistakes them for kidney stones. However, patients with kidney stones often have sharp pain in the abdomen, which is not the case with phleboliths. Additional tests are sometimes necessary, such as an MRI scan. This way the doctor gets an idea about the exact location and size of the phleboliths.



Usually, treatment is not necessary for patients with vein stones, because symptoms only rarely develop. Applying heat, elevating the affected area and using anti-inflammatories in the form of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are conservative treatments that are sufficiently effective for most patients. However, if the patient still experiences complaints, various treatment options are possible.

Professional medical treatment

Surgery Depending on the severity of the vein abnormalities, a surgeon may remove the vein and surrounding tissue. The surgical procedure is performed under complete anesthesia.Endovascular laser therapy A patient receives laser therapy to close the vein. Endovascular laser therapy is a commonly used treatment for varicose veins.Sclerotherapy In sclerotherapy, the vein containing the phlebolite is shriveled via an injection . Multiple treatments are often required.

Prognosis of vein stones

In most cases, vein stones do not indicate the presence of a serious condition. Occasionally treatment is necessary, which produces successful results in most patients.Sufficient exercise is important / Source: Skeeze, Pixabay

Prevention of vein wall disorders

Thanks to some recommendations for a healthy lifestyle, it is possible to help prevent the future development of phleboliths. Sitting still for too long is not good. Walking and stretching the arms and legs are good advice to improve blood circulation. Wearing tight clothing is not allowed. This causes phleboliths to develop more quickly. Clothing should not be too tight, especially at the waist. Furthermore, sufficient fluid intake (drinking plenty of water) is necessary to prevent dehydration. Dehydration causes higher blood pressure, which causes arterial stones to form more quickly.

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