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Bleeding esophageal varices

  • Definition

    Bleeding esophageal varices are very swollen veins in the walls of the lower part of the esophagus (the tube that connects your throat to your stomach) that begin to bleed.

    Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    Scarring (cirrhosis) of the liver is the most common cause of esophageal varices. This scarring prevents blood from flowing through the liver. As a result, more blood flows through the veins of the esophagus.

    This extra blood flow causes the veins in the esophagus to balloon outward. If these veins break open (rupture), they can cause severe bleeding.

    Any cause of chronic liver disease can cause varices.

    The swollen veins (varices) can also occur in the upper part of the stomach.