Esophageal Varices

Animation Movie AvailableRelated Media: Upper GI Endoscopy


The esophagus connects the mouth to the stomach. Esophageal varices are abnormally swollen veins within the lining of the esophagus. If undiagnosed or untreated, esophageal varices can rupture and lead to life-threatening bleeding.
The Esophagus
si55551107 96472 1
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.


Increased pressure in the veins that deliver blood to the liver is known as portal hypertension. The increased pressure causes blood to back up into other smaller vessels, including those of the esophagus. This leads to the formation of esophageal varices. The medical conditions that lead to the development of portal hypertension and esophageal varices include:
  • Cirrhosis of the liver
  • Blood clots of the splenic, portal, or hepatic veins
  • Arterial-portal venous fistula—abnormal connections between arteries and veins in the liver or spleen
  • Certain infections
  • Severe heart failure
  • Hodgkin's disease
  • Sarcoidosis

Risk Factors

Factors that increase your chance of developing esophageal varices include:


Esophageal varices are usually only diagnosed when bleeding occurs. Though bleeding from esophageal varices may not be severe and may stop on its own, first-time bleeding events may result in death in some cases.Signs of bleeding from esophageal varices include:
  • Vomiting or coughing up blood
  • Red, tarry, or very dark stools
  • Low blood pressure
  • Lightheadedness
  • Rapid heartbeat

leave comments
Did you like this? Share with your family and friends.
Related Topics:
Current Research From Top Journals

Water Before Meals May Promote Weight Loss
August 2015

A randomized trial found that drinking water before main meals led to higher weight loss than those who were asked to imagine a full stomach before main meals. Water preloading is believed to help create a feeling of fullness or satiety during the meal, which may help curb overeating.

dot separator
previous editions

Fecal Transplants Induce Ulcerative Colitis Remission
July 2015

Exercise Associated with Healthy Baby Weight
June 2015

Mindful Meditation May Reduce Symptoms and Complications of Insomnia
May 2015

dashed separator


Our Free Newsletter
click here to see all of our uplifting newsletters »