Varices, esophageal

Other names: Esophageal varices

DEFINITION

Esophageal varices are abnormal, enlarged veins in the lower part of the esophagus — the tube that connects the throat and stomach. They most commonly occur in individuals with serious liver diseases. These varices develop due to obstructions in normal blood flow to the liver, leading to increased pressure in smaller blood vessels that can result in bleeding or rupture.

SYMPTOMS

Esophageal varices typically do not cause symptoms unless they bleed. Signs of bleeding varices include vomiting blood, black or tarry stools, and shock in severe cases. Additionally, signs of liver disease such as jaundice, spider nevi, palmar erythema, Dupuytren's contracture, shrunken testicles, swollen spleen, and ascites may indicate the presence of varices.

CAUSES

Esophageal varices can form due to liver scarring (cirrhosis), blood clots, parasitic infections like schistosomiasis, or conditions like Budd-Chiari syndrome that block blood flow to the liver.

RISK FACTORS

Factors that increase the risk of bleeding from esophageal varices include high portal vein pressure, large varices, red marks on varices indicating a high risk of bleeding, severe cirrhosis or liver failure, and continued alcohol use.

COMPLICATIONS

The most serious complication of esophageal varices is bleeding, which can lead to shock and death if not promptly treated.

PREPARING FOR YOUR APPOINTMENT

If you suspect you have a condition that could lead to esophageal varices or are experiencing symptoms of internal bleeding, seek immediate medical attention. Prepare for your appointment by noting symptoms, personal information, medical history, and questions for your doctor.

TESTS AND DIAGNOSIS

Screening tests for esophageal varices include endoscope exams and imaging tests like CT or MRI scans. Treatment aims to prevent bleeding through medications to reduce portal vein pressure or procedures like band ligation or transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS).

TREATMENTS AND DRUGS

To prevent bleeding from esophageal varices, treatments focus on lowering portal vein pressure with medications or endoscopic procedures. In cases of active bleeding, immediate interventions like band ligation and TIPS may be necessary.

LIFESTYLE AND HOME REMEDIES

While no treatment can prevent the development of esophageal varices in individuals with cirrhosis, lifestyle changes such as avoiding alcohol consumption, maintaining a healthy diet and weight, using chemicals cautiously, and reducing Hepatitis risks can help manage liver disease complications.


QUESTIONS

  1. What are Esophageal varices?

Esophageal varices are abnormal enlarged veins in the lower part of the esophagus often seen in individuals with liver diseases.

  1. What are the symptoms of bleeding Esophageal varices?

Symptoms include vomiting blood, black or tarry stools, and shock in severe cases.

  1. What causes Esophageal varices?

Causes include liver scarring (cirrhosis), blood clots obstructing blood flow to the liver, parasitic infections like schistosomiasis, and conditions like Budd-Chiari syndrome.

  1. What factors increase the risk of bleeding from Esophageal varices?

High portal vein pressure, large varices with red marks indicating a high risk of bleeding, severe cirrhosis or liver failure, and continued alcohol use increase the risk.

  1. What is the most serious complication of Esophageal varices?

The most serious complication is bleeding which can lead to shock and death if not promptly treated.

  1. How are Esophageal varices diagnosed?

Diagnosis involves endoscope exams and imaging tests like CT or MRI scans.

  1. What treatments aim to prevent bleeding from Esophageal varices?

Treatments include medications to reduce portal vein pressure and procedures like band ligation or TIPS.

  1. How are bleeding Esophageal varices managed?

Immediate interventions such as band ligation and medications like octreotide may be used to stop bleeding.

  1. Can lifestyle changes help manage Esophageal varices?

Lifestyle changes such as avoiding alcohol consumption, maintaining a healthy diet and weight can help manage complications associated with liver diseases.

  1. When should one seek medical attention for Esophageal varices?

Seek immediate medical attention if experiencing symptoms of internal bleeding such as bloody vomit or stools.