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Patient care — surgical procedures

esophageal varices Ligation of esophageal varices: Esophageal varices are extremely dilated sub-mucosal veins in the esophagus. They are most often a consequence of portal hypertension, such as may be seen with cirrhosis; patients with esophageal varices have a strong tendency to develop bleeding.

Bleeding esophageal varices result from dilated (wider than normal) veins in the walls of the lower part of the esophagus and sometimes the upper part of the stomach.

Endoscopy is considered the mainstay of urgent treatment. Two main therapeutic approaches exist:

  • Variceal ligation, or banding
  • sclerotherapy

The health care provider may inject the varices directly with a clotting medicine, or place a rubber band around the bleeding veins. This procedure is used in acute bleeding episodes and as prophylactic (preventive) therapy. Acute bleeding may also be treated by a balloon tamponade -- a tube that is inserted through the nose into the stomach and inflated with air to produce pressure against the bleeding veins.

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