Oesphageal Varices

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Oesophageal varices are an important cause of vomiting blood.
At the lower end of the oesophagus the submucosal venous plexus drains into both the systemic venous system and the portal venous system. When the pressure in the portal venous system is high, e.g. as a result of severe diffuse long-standing liver disease, the oesophageal submucosal venous channels become enormously dilated to form oesophageal varices, which may protrude slightly into the lumen.
Rupture of the varices, or ulceration of the overlying mucosa, can produce torrential haemorrhage into the oesophagus and stomach, often precipitating vomiting of blood (haematemesis).

The most common cause of oesophageal varices is portal hypertension associated with cirrhosis of the liver.
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