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Diagnosis / Gastric Varices

Gastric varices are dilated blood vessels in the esophagus or stomach caused by portal hypertension. They cause no symptoms unless they rupture and bleed, which can be life-threatening.

Someone with symptoms of bleeding varices should seek treatment immediately. There are available treatments to stop the bleeding and help prevent varices from coming back.

Symptoms of Bleeding Varices

Bleeding from gastric varices is a medical emergency. You should seek immediate treatment if you experience the below symptoms:

  • Vomiting of blood
  • Black, tarry, or bloody stool
  • Low blood pressure
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Lightheadedness
  • Shock (in severe cases)

Cause of Bleeding Varices

Portal hypertension is an increase in the pressure within the vein that carries blood from the digestive organs to the liver (portal vein). Gastric varices are often due to scarring of the liver, or cirrhosis.

Increased pressure in the portal vein causes blood to be pushed away from the liver into smaller blood vessels. The increased blood in the smaller blood vessels leads to the development of large, swollen veins (varices) within the esophagus, stomach, rectum, and umbilical area. These varices are fragile and can easily rupture, resulting in a large amount of blood loss.

IVC’s Treatments for Gastric Varices

Aside from the urgent need to stop the bleeding, treatment is also performed to prevent more bleeding. At IVC, we offer several minimally invasive treatments to help treat varices including:

  • Transjugular Intrahepatic Portosystemic Shunt (TIPS) – procedure designed to relieve high blood pressure that has built up in the liver.
  • Balloon-Occluded Retrograde Transvenous Obliteration (BRTO) – procedure involves blocking the dilated vessels, reducing the risk of rupture.
  • Plug Assisted Retrograde Transvenous Obliteration (PARTO) – procedure involves blocking the dilated vessels, reducing the risk of rupture.

Call IVC today at 503-612-0498 for more information or to schedule an appointment.

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