Esophageal Varices

Examples of Varices

Varices in the esophagus are like varicose veins in the legs. They are swollen veins which usually only occur when there is cirrhosis of the liver. When this happens, blood from the intestine cannot get through the blocked liver but rather detours through the esophagus on the way back to the heart. These veins eventually can become very large and bleed which is a bad complication. Note that the veins in the images are swollen and have a bluish tinge the color of blood in veins.

Like most things in life, they come in small, medium and large. Usually, it is only when they become large that bleeding occurs. Image 1 shows a small bluish varix. In Image 2, there are now several larger undulating swollen varices. In Image 3, you see quite large swollen veins with even a small amount of blood.