Gastrointestinal varices (patient information)
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Gastrointestinal varices are caused by an ncrease in blood flow and vascular resistance in portal vein known as portal hypertension. Common symptoms of portal hypertension include bloody vomiting, tarry stools, abdominal distention, fatigue, and loss of appetite. Patients who are at high risk for portal hypertension include intravenous drug use (IVDU), tattooing or piercing in unhygienic condition, needlestick injury, blood transfusion before 1992, viral hepatitis, unprotected sexual intercourse, schistosomiasis in childhood, and family history of hereditary liver disease. The mainstay of treatment in portal hypertension is surgery. The medical therapy for decreasing the tone of liver veins and decreasing the pressure is suggested. Common complications of portal hypertension include peritoneum infection, renal insufficiency, severe confusion, spleen enlargement, abdominal distension, bloody vomiting, renal failure, and pulmonary failure.
What are the symptoms of Portal hypertension?
Symptoms of portal hypertension include:
- Abdominal pain
- Slurred speech
- Bleeding easily
- Easy bruising
- Itchy skin
- Peripheral swelling
- Weight loss
- Palms Redness
- Testicular shrinkage in men
- Breast enlargement in men
- Bloody stool
What causes Portal hypertension?
Common causes of portal hypertension include:
- Bacterial intestinal infections
- Congenital abnormalities
- Renal transplantation
- Liver transplantation
- Alcoholic hepatitis
- Antiretroviral therapy
- Autoimmune disease
- Chronic hepatitis
- Crohn’s disease
- Familial cases
- Fatty liver
Who is at highest risk?
Patients who are at high risk for portal hypertension include:
- Intravenous drug use (IVDU)
- Tattooing or piercing in unhygienic condition
- Needlestick injury
- Blood transfusion before 1992
- Viral hepatitis
- Unprotected sexual intercourse
- Schistosomiasis in childhood
- Family history of hereditary liver disease
Portal hypertension is diagnosed based on:
- Physical examination
- CT-scan and MRI
- Color-doppler ultrasound
- Dilated veins at the lower portion of esophagus
When to seek urgent medical care?
Patients with the following symptom have to seek urgent medical care:
- Bloody vomiting
- Tarry stool
- Severe abdominal pain
- Yellowish discoloration of skin
- Dilated veins around the umbilicus
- The mainstay of treatment in gastrointestinal varices is endoscopic surgery.
- The medical therapy for decreasing the tone of liver veins and decreasing the pressure is suggested.
Where to find medical care for Portal hypertension?
- Hepatitis B vaccination
- Avoiding unprotected sex relations
- Precise screening of the blood products before infusion
- Alcohol consumption reduction
- Overweight and obesity prevention
- Diabetes mellitus prevention.
- Hepatitis B and hepatitis C infections management
- Alcohol abuse management
- Weight loss management
- Proper management of diabetes mellitus
What to expect (Outlook/Prognosis)?
- The symptoms of portal hypertension usually develop in the third to fourth decades of life.
- Dilated esophageal veins are typically developed 5-15% per year after hepatic fibrosis.
- Most of the cirrhotic patients will develop the varices, at least once during the lifetime.
- Approximately 60% of patients with cirrhosis develop ascites in 10 years.
- The presence of variceal bleeding, spontaneous bacterial peritonitis, and renal insufficiency are associated with a particularly poor prognosis among patients with portal hypertension. They are the leading causes of death among patients with portal hypertension.
Common complications of portal hypertension include: