Evaluation and Treatment of Esophageal Varices in the Cirrhotic Patient

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Click on the icon on the upper right hand side for the article written by Eyal Ashkenazi, MD, Yulia Kovalev, MD and Eli Zuckerman, MD.
IMAJ 2012: 15: February: 109-115

 Portal hypertension is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in liver cirrhosis. Complications of portal hypertension in cirrhotic patients include esophageal and gastric varices, portal hypertensive gastropathy, ascites, hepatorenal syndrome, hepatopulmonary syndrome and portopulmonary hypertension. The hepatic venous pressure gradient should be at least 10 mmHg for esophageal varices to appear, and more than 12 mmHg for acute esophageal variceal bleeding. This article reviews the pathophysiology responsible for portal hypertension and its complications, and the treatments used for esophageal varices in the setting of primary and secondary prophylaxis and during active bleeding.