Esophageal varices are abnormal, enlarged veins in the lower part of the esophagus — the tube that connects the throat and stomach. Esophageal varices occur most often in people with serious liver diseases.
Esophageal varices develop when normal blood flow to the liver is obstructed by scar tissue in the liver or a clot. Seeking a way around the blockages, blood flows into smaller blood vessels that are not designed to carry large volumes of blood. The vessels may leak blood or even rupture, causing life-threatening bleeding.
A number of drugs and medical procedures can help prevent and stop bleeding from esophageal varices.
Mar. 15, 2013
- Feldman M, et al. Sleisenger & Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease: Pathophysiology, Diagnosis, Management. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-1-4160-6189-2..X0001-7--TOP&isbn=978-1-4160-6189-2&about=true&uniqId=229935664-2192. Accessed Sept. 12, 2010.
- Prevention and management of gastroesophageal varices and variceal hemorrhage in cirrhosis. Alexandria, Va.: American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases. http://www.aasld.org/practiceguidelines/Documents/Bookmarked%20Practice%20Guidelines/Prevention%20and%20Management%20of%20Gastro%20Varices%20and%20Hemorrhage.pdf. Accessed Sept. 12, 2010.
- Bope ET, et al. Conn's Current Therapy. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2013. Http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?about=true&eid=$eid&isbn=978-1-4557-0295-4&uniqId=398813857-1936. Accessed Jan. 22, 2013.
- Coelho-Prabhu N et al. Current staging and diagnosis of gastroesophageal varices. Clinical Liver Disease. 2010; 14: 195.
- AskMayoExpert. Esophageal varices. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2012.
- What I need to know about cirrhosis. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/cirrhosis_ez/#prevent. Accessed Jan. 29, 2013.
- Schistosomiasis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/schistosomiasis/gen_info/faqs.html. Accessed Jan. 29, 2013.
You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.