What is it?

Esophageal varices are abnormal, enlarged veins in the esophagus. This condition occurs most often in people with serious liver diseases.
Esophageal varices develop when normal blood flow to the liver is blocked by a clot or scar tissue in the liver. To go around the blockages, blood flows into smaller blood vessels that aren't designed to carry large volumes of blood. The vessels can leak blood or even rupture, causing life-threatening bleeding.
A number of drugs and medical procedures can help prevent or stop bleeding from esophageal varices.

2 Alikes with Esophageal varices

Learn from others
who are experiencing
Esophageal varices.

Signs & symptoms

Esophageal varices usually don't cause signs and symptoms unless they bleed. Signs and symptoms of bleeding esophageal varices include:
* Vomiting large amounts of blood
* Black, tarry or bloody stools
* Lightheadedness
* Loss of consciousness in severe cases

Your doctor might suspect esophageal varices if you have signs of liver disease, including:
* Yellow coloration of your skin and eyes (jaundice)
* Easy bleeding or bruising
* Fluid buildup in your abdomen (ascites)


If the patient have cirrhosis, the doctor should screen for esophageal varices when diagnosed. Main tests used to diagnose esophageal varices are:
* Endoscopic exam- The doctor will look for dilated veins, measure them, if found, and check for red streaks and red spots, which usually indicate a significant risk of bleeding. Treatment can be performed during the exam.
* Imaging tests- Both abdominal CT scans and Doppler ultrasounds of the splenic and portal veins can suggest the presence of esophageal varices. An ultrasound test called transient elastography that measures scarring in the liver can help your doctor determine if you have portal hypertension, which may lead to esophageal varices.
* Capsule endoscopy


The primary aim in treating esophageal varices is to prevent bleeding. Bleeding esophageal varices are life-threatening. If bleeding occurs, treatments are available to try to stop the bleeding.

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

Learn more about our editorial process for content accuracy.

Alike Wisdom

Instantly get answers to medical questions with our AI, built from the collective wisdom of our community facing similar experiences

Thank you! Your submission has been received!

Find people who are
experiencing a similar
medical reality

100% Free