Esophageal Variceal Injection

Esophageal varices are abnormal blood vessels that develop in the esophagus. They have abnormally thin walls and the blood pressure within them is very high. This combination makes esophageal varices dangerous, because they can burst and cause life-threatening bleeding. Esophageal variceal injection is a procedure to either stop active bleeding or prevent future bleeding. During the procedure, medication is injected into or alongside esophageal varices. When injecting into the vein, the medication causes blood clots to form, blocking the vein from bleeding. When injected alongside the vein, the swelling in the area compresses the vein, preventing it from bleeding. The procedure is also known as sclerotherapy.

  • Call Your Doctor


    After arriving home, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:

    • Signs of infection, including fever and chills
    • Bleeding from the mouth
    • Increasing pain
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Bloody vomit
    • Difficulty swallowing
    • Cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain
    • Lightheadedness
    • Bloody or dark black stools
    • Severe abdominal pain

    If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.

  • Definition

    Esophageal varices
    are abnormal blood vessels that develop in the esophagus. They have abnormally thin walls and the blood pressure within them is very high. This combination makes esophageal varices dangerous, because they can burst and cause life-threatening bleeding.

    Esophageal variceal injection is a procedure to either stop active bleeding or prevent future bleeding. During the procedure, medication is injected into or alongside esophageal varices. When injecting into the vein, the medication causes blood clots to form, blocking the vein from bleeding. When injected alongside the vein, the swelling in the area compresses the vein, preventing it from bleeding.

    The procedure is also known as sclerotherapy.

  • What to Expect

    After this procedure, you will have a smaller chance of bleeding from your esophageal varices. However, it is still possible to bleed from varices that have been injected.

    Follow-up as directed by your doctor. More than one procedure may be required.

  • Reasons for Procedure

    Esophageal varices can be life-threatening. Esophageal variceal injection is a procedure that can be done to stop active bleeding from esophageal varices and prevent rebleeding.

  • Possible Complications

    Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:

    • Painful or difficult swallowing
    • Esophageal narrowing
    • Bleeding
    • Esophageal damage
    • Infection
    • Lung injury

    Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:

    • Alcoholism
    • Bleeding disorder
    • Active bleeding
    • Increased age
    • Heart or lung problems