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Esophageal Varices

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jun 5, 2024.

What are esophageal varices?

Esophageal varices are swollen veins in the lower part of your esophagus. They are caused by increased pressure in the blood vessels of your liver. As the pressure builds in your liver, the pressure also builds in the veins in your esophagus.

Digestive Tract

What increases my risk for esophageal varices?

What are the signs and symptoms of esophageal varices?

You may have any of the following symptoms based on the cause of your esophageal varices:

How are esophageal varices diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask about your health history and examine you. He or she may use an endoscope to see the walls of your esophagus and upper intestines. An endoscope is a bendable metal tube with a light and tiny camera on the end. It is placed down your throat and moved into your stomach and intestines.

How are esophageal varices treated?

The goal of treatment is to prevent the varices from breaking open and bleeding. You may be given medicines to decrease the pressure in your liver or to reduce stomach acid. You may need to have a shunt placed to relieve pressure. Bands may be placed around large varices to cause them to shrink. The bands may be used to prevent or stop bleeding. You may need surgery to remove the bleeding section of your esophagus if healthcare providers cannot stop the bleeding.

Treatment options

The following list of medications are related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

How can I prevent my varices from bleeding?

When should I seek immediate care?

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Learn more about Esophageal Varices

Treatment options

Symptoms and treatments

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.