Portal hypertension is increased pressure in the portal vein — the main vein that receives blood from the:
The increased pressure is most often a symptom of liver disease and is most commonly caused by scarring in the liver (cirrhosis).
It can occur when the veins leading in to or out of the liver are blocked, or as a result of chronic pancreatitis.
In newborns, portal hypertension can result from umbilical infection. In cases of chronic pancreatitis and umbilical infection, the liver is usually normal.
Pressure on the portal vein causes blood flow to be restricted or pushed backward.
This causes enlargement and lengthening of the veins in the stomach and esophagus. Enlarged veins are called varices.
Excessive bleeding (hemorrhage) from the varices is a potentially life-threatening condition that must be treated because hemorrhage often recurs and is associated with a high risk of death.
Portal hypertension may cause the spleen to become enlarged. This can cause abdominal discomfort and, because the enlarged spleen holds blood cells, reduce circulating platelets and white blood cells.
Other conditions that may develop as a result of portal hypertension include:
To schedule an appointment, or for more information, call the UPMC Liver Cancer Center, toll-free, at 1-855-74-LIVER or complete our contact form now.
Common symptoms may include:
In addition to a physical exam, your doctor may order several tests to help diagnose cirrhosis or portal hypertension:
The goals of cirrhosis treatment are to:
Treatment options may include:
Other things that may aid in treatment include:
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