, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp 322-334,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 31 May 2008

Updates in the pathogenesis, diagnosis and management of ectopic varices

Abstract

Ectopic varices (EcV) comprise large portosystemic venous collaterals located anywhere other than the gastro-oesophageal region. No large series or randomized-controlled trials address this subject, and therefore its management is based on available expertise and facilities, and may require a multidisciplinary team approach. EcV are common findings during endoscopy in portal hypertensive patients and their bleeding accounts for only 1–5% of all variceal bleeding. EcV develop secondary to portal hypertension (PHT), surgical procedures, anomalies in venous outflow, or abdominal vascular thrombosis and may be familial in origin. Bleeding EcV may present with anaemia, shock, haematemesis, melaena or haematochezia and should be considered in patients with PHT and gastrointestinal bleeding or anaemia of obscure origin. EcV may be discovered during panendoscopy, enteroscopy, endoscopic ultrasound, wireless capsule endoscopy, diagnostic angiography, multislice helical computed tomography, magnetic resonance angiography, colour Doppler-flow imaging, laparotomy, laparoscopy and occasionally during autopsy. Patients with suspected EcV bleeding need immediate assessment, resuscitation, haemodynamic stabilization and referral to specialist centres. Management of EcV involves medical, endoscopic, interventional radiological and surgical modalities depending on patients’ condition, site of varices, available expertise and patients’ subsequent management plan.

An erratum to this article can be found at http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12072-008-9089-7