Esophageal Varices

Overview
  • Esophageal Varices refer to abnormal dilations of veins within the esophagus and are most often observed in the context of cirrhosis.
Morphology
  • Tortuous, dilated veins can be observed in the esophageal submucosa. The overlying esophageal mucosa often protrudes into esophageal lumen, further weakening it.
Etiology
  • Vasculature of the upper stomach and esophagus is one of the portal-systemic junctions where the portal veins and systemic venous systems anastamose. When portal hypertension develops, blood is redirected through these portal-systemic junctions, resulting in chronically increased pressure within these veins and ultimately their dilation.
Clinical Consequences
  • Sadly, esophageal varices are largely asymptomatic until their rupture, resulting in catastrophic upper GI bleeding that can be fatal.