Under normal conditions the blood flows from the intestines and spleen to the liver through the portal vein. When a liver is affected by different types of diseases like Cirrhosis or scarring of the tissue the first thing that is affected is the blood flow. This eventually results in the blood then flowing through the blood vessels to the liver, leading to swelling of the blood vessels.

This swelling is generally known as Varices. As a result of this swelling, different problems may occur, for instance the spleen may become enlarged or damaged. Varices may occur in any part of the intestine or stomach.

Due to the build-up of pressure Varices may eventually lead to bleeding within the gastrointestinal tract.

In most cases Variceal Bleeding is considered to be a near fatal liver disease.

What does the treatment of Variceal Bleeding generally involve?

In most cases beta-blockers may be administered to patients to help reduce the pressure within the Varices and prevent rupturing.

Endoscopic therapy is also a common treatment process followed to treat this medical condition. Endoscopic therapy helps to treat the problem by reducing the need of surgery. In this process rubber bands are placed around the Varices to avoid swelling or rupturing.

Patients may require hospitalization in order for the treatment to be effective. Furthermore, patients will often need a constant flow of intravenous fluids, transfusion of red blood cells etc.

Patients who suffer from blood clotting problems may require transfusion of platelets too.

Octreotide is also a common medication that is often administered to stop bleeding from Varices.

It is also common for patients suffering from Variceal Bleeding to be administered anti-biotic medication to prevent infection in the intestines and spleen.

Anti-biotics also help reduce the bleeding to a certain extent while reducing mortality.

Typical symptoms of Variceal Bleeding

Although Variceal Bleeding is a major Liver Disease that often leads to major complications, there are practically no symptoms to recognize the disease unless there is actual bleeding from ruptured Varices.

Usually, once the Varices rupture, it leads to portal hypertension. This increased pressure in the portal vein leads to swollen veins in the stomach and intestines or spleen. Since the Varices are large, it can lead to severe blood loss when it ruptures.

Patients may therefore experience symptoms for these conditions instead.

Patients may otherwise experience common symptoms like vomiting of blood more than 2 – 3 times a day, dark colored stools, lower than normal blood pressure, rapid change in heart rate, shock.

Common Causes of Variceal Bleeding

Existing liver disease and mainly chronic diseases like Cirrhosis of the liver may eventually lead to Varices and Variceal Bleeding.

Any medical condition that leads to increased pressure on the portal vein or blood flow may lead to Variceal Bleeding.

In some cases extreme alcohol consumption over several years may also result in Variceal Bleeding.

Blood pressure related problems or age related nerve and vein problems could also possibly lead to Variceal Bleeding though this is not a main cause.