Esophageal varices (or oesophageal varices) are extremely dilated sub-mucosal veins in the lower third of the esophagus. They are most often a consequence of portal hypertension, commonly due to cirrhosis; patients with esophageal varices have a strong tendency to develop bleeding.
Symptoms: symptoms may include: Black, tarry stools. Bloody stools. Light-headedness. Paleness. Symptoms of chronic liver disease. Vomiting. Vomiting blood.
Diagnosis: Main tests used to diagnose esophageal varicesare: Endoscope exam. Imaging tests. Capsule endoscopy.
Treament: Therapeutic endoscopy is considered the mainstay of urgent treatment. The two main therapeutic approaches are variceal ligation or banding and sclerotherapy. Methods of treating the portal hypertension include: transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt, or a distal splenorenal shunt procedure or a liver transplantation.
Epidemology: The rupture of esophageal varices is a devastating complication of portal hypertension. Increased portal pressure is necessary for the development and rupture of varices but apparently not sufficient, because many patients with elevated portal pressures never bleed. Lowering portal pressure, reducing varix size, and supporting varices in scar tissue may all lower the risk of hemorrhage.