Bleeding Varices

Bleeding varices are bleeding veins in the esophagus, caused by a liver disease.


The symptoms of bleeding varices are:

  • Blood in the stool or vomit
  • Fainting
  • Dizziness
  • Cirrhosis of the liver

Diagnosis of Bleeding Varices

Your doctor will look for the following signs of bleeding varices:

  • Varicose veins in the esophagus, identifiable under endoscopy
  • Varicose veins in the skin near the navel
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Incoherent speech, due to toxins in the bloodstream


Bleeding varices are actually caused by a liver disease called portal hypertension. Here, a scarred or cirrhotic liver can no longer filter blood. As a result, the blood develops a bypass around the liver in form of varicose veins near the junction between the stomach and the esophagus.

The blood pressure in the varicose vein is great, thus causing the vein to become distended. Sometimes, it is so great that the vein can rupture and bleed profusely.

Treatment for Bleeding Varices

The treatments for bleeding varices include:

  • Medications
    Intravenous medications are given to control blood pressure, decrease blood supply to the gastrointestinal tract, and reduce the risk of bleeding.

  • Rubber band treatment
    In a technique similar to that used to threat internal hemorrhoid, a rubber band is placed on the varicose vein to cut off its blood supply. Within a few weeks, the vein will shrivel up and fall off along with the band.

  • Sclerotherapy
    A sclerosant, usually a chemical or saline solution, is injected into the varicose vein to induce a clot and block its blood supply. This will cause the vein to shrivel and die.

  • Transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt
    A tube or shunt is surgically inserted to for blood to bypass the liver. This relieves the pressure on the veins in the esophagus.

  • Sengstaken-Blakemore tube
    A balloon is inflated against the walls of the esophagus to press against the varices and stop the bleeding.

MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: Bleeding Varices
eMedicine: Esophageal Varices

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