What Are Esophageal Varices?

Esophageal varices are enlarged blood vessels in your esophagus (the muscular tube connecting the mouth to the stomach). They are usually found in patients with chronic liver disease. Scarring of the liver causes a backup of pressure in the vein leading from the esophagus. This increased pressure causes smaller esophageal veins to enlarge.

If an esophageal varice ruptures (bursts), it can lead to extensive blood loss and even death.

The greatest risk factor for esophageal varices is cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver from hepatitis, fatty liver disease and alcoholic liver disease; blood clot; and a parasitic infection called schistosomiasis.