ABC Medical Center > Esophageal varices

What is Esophageal varices?

21:56 - 4 May , 2021


It is a condition in which the veins around the esophagus dilate due to excess blood flow from the stomach, which, unable to reach the heart, seeks other escape routes. These veins can break and bleed.

Here are some of the reasons why esophageal varices can develop:

  • Alterations in blood coagulation.
  • Serious liver diseases (hepatitis, cancer, cirrhosis, fatty liver, and primary biliary cirrhosis).
  • Schistosomiasis, which is a parasitic infection that can affect the liver and other organs.
  • Portal vein thrombosis.

Esophageal varices may bleed due to any of the following:

  • Uninterrupted alcohol consumption.
  • Portal hypertension.
  • Liver failure.
  • Cirrhosis.
  • Red streaks or dots in varicose veins.
  • Large varicose veins.

Signs and symptoms Esophageal varices

Esophageal varices usually do not cause symptoms, except when they rupture and cause bleeding, causing the following: 

  • Anemia.
  • Ascites (accumulation of fluid in the abdomen).
  • Lethargy.
  • Dark or bloody stools.
  • Bruising.
  • Jaundice.
  • Loss of consciousness.
  • Abundant blood vomiting.

The biggest risk is bleeding because if you have one, you will likely have another. So if you lose a lot of blood, you might go into shock and die.

Diagnosis and treatment Esophageal varices

Once your doctor analyzes your symptoms and clinical history, they will perform a physical examination and request imaging studies such as:

  • Doppler ultrasound.
  • Gastrointestinal endoscopy.
  • Computed tomography of the abdomen.

The basic treatment consists of avoiding acute gastrointestinal bleeding by:

  • Complete alcohol abstention.
  • Placing bands on varices through an esophagoscopy.
  • Beta-blockers.

If bleeding has occurred, the important thing is to stop it and reverse the effects of blood loss by:

  • Elastic bands to hold bleeding veins.
  • Diversion of blood carried by the portal vein.
  • Medications to slow blood flow in the portal vein.
  • Pressure on the varices to stop the bleeding.
  • Blood transfusions to recover the lost volume.
  • Liver transplant.

You may be given antibiotics because there is a risk of infection.

At ABC Medical Center’s Internal Medicine Department, we offer health care services with the highest quality and safety, from the prevention, diagnosis, timely treatment, and monitoring of infectious, respiratory, endocrinological, dermatological, rheumatic, nephrological, gastrointestinal, and hematological pathologies of both chronic-degenerative diseases and acute conditions, through a comprehensive and multidisciplinary model.


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  • Ramírez-Del Pilar R, Yáñez-Montes MC, Enríquez-Peregrino KG, et al. Correlation between platelet/spleen index and esophageal varices degree. Med Int Mex. 2017;33(3):344-350.
  • Martínez LFY, Hidalgo ÁM, Galbán GJA, et al. Clinical-evolutionary relationship of patients with liver cirrhosis and esophageal varices treated with propranolol for the prevention of gastrointestinal bleeding. Mediciego. 2016;22(Suppl: 1):1-12.

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