Esophageal Varices Treatments

Treatment for esophageal varices depends on the size and appearance of the veins and the risk for bleeding. Several treatments are performed during an endoscopy, in which a thin, flexible tube is inserted through your mouth and down your esophagus. Treatments include:

  • Endoscopic ligation: During an endoscopy, small rubber bands are placed around the varices to stop active bleeding or the risk of bleeding.
  • Endoscopic injections: During an endoscopy, your physician can inject dilated veins with alcohol or blood-clotting medication to shrink them.
  • Tamponade: During an endoscopy, a balloon is inserted into your esophagus and filled with air to put pressure on a bleeding blood vessel and help stop bleeding.
  • Shunt placement: A shunt is a small tube that provides a new path for blood to flow when a blood vessel is damaged. This method is often used to halt bleeding while waiting for a liver transplant.
  • Liver transplant: A healthy liver or part of a liver from a donor replaces your diseased liver.
  • Blood transfusion: Blood from a donor replaces the blood you have lost.
  • Medications: Beta blockers may reduce the pressure in your portal vein. Other medications may slow blood flow from your esophagus to your liver. Antibiotics are given to prevent a bacterial infection in the esophagus.