Esophageal varices - Definition

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Esophageal varices are permanently dilated veins located in the esophageal lining. These are, in the large majority of cases, caused by increased blood pressure in the portal vein, in other words the vein that transports blood from the digestive system to the liver.


Cirrhosis of the liver is the most common cause of esophageal varices. Depending on the extent of portal hypertension, the varices are more likely to rupture. If this occurs, it can cause hemorrhage in the digestive system.


These varices can be analyzed via endoscopy of the esophagus, using a tiny camera inserted through the mouth. There is also a technique that can be implemented to prevent their complication, in other words their rupture, using drugs, such as beta-blockers, or ligation, consisting of surgically tying up the varices at their base.