Portal hypertension

Increased blood pressure in the portal vein, which carries blood from the stomach, intestine, and spleen to the liver. This causes oesophageal varices, which may rupture and cause internal bleeding, and ascites. The most common cause of portal hypertension is cirrhosis. Diagnosis is usually made from the symptoms and signs. Doppler ultrasound scanning may be used to assess the pressure in the portal vein. Various treatments may be used to stop bleeding or prevent further bleeding. For example, ruptured blood vessels may be treated by sclerotherapy, in which a chemical is injected into the veins to block them. A shunt is sometimes carried out to prevent further bleeding. Ascites is controlled by restriction of salt and with diuretic drugs.


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