are similar to varicose veins except that they occur in the lining of the walls of the lower esophagus (swallowing tube). They are a common complication of cirrhosis. If the veins rupture, they can cause serious bleeding that often requires blood transfusion.
Once bleeding is controlled, treatment focuses on preventing future bleeding episodes. Ruptured esophageal varices are responsible for a large proportion of the deaths associated with cirrhosis.
Endoscopy, which consists of a narrow tube mounted with a video camera being inserted into the throat, is used to identify the bleeding site. A rubber band is used to tie off the bleeding portion of the vein.
Endoscopy is again used to identify the bleeding site. It is only useful if the bleeding is in your esophagus. A drug, such as morrhuate sodium (Scleromate) is injected into the bleeding vein, causing it to constrict. This slows the bleeding and allows a clot to form, closing the ruptured vessel. It is necessary to repeat the procedure over 2-3 months to reduce the risk of bleeding again.
The TIPS procedure is the creation of an artificial connection directly between the portal veins and hepatic veins of your liver. The entire procedure is performed using needles, catheters, wires, and stents placed through a vein in your neck.
In this procedure, a catheter (tube) with a stent (a tube that shunts blood) attached to it is threaded through a vein in your neck into your liver. Using x-ray guidance, the stent is placed within your liver to allow blood to flow more easily through the portal vein. Once in place, the shunt allows blood to return directly to your heart without passing through the varices. TIPS is a good choice for bleeding that is not controlled by endoscopy.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a