Gastric varices: profile, classification, and management

Am J Gastroenterol. 1989 Oct;84(10):1244-9.


Development of gastric varices is an important manifestation of portal hypertension. In segmental portal hypertension, gastric varices originate from short gastric and gastroepiploic veins. In generalized portal hypertension, intrinsic veins at cardia participate in the formation of gastric varices. Endoscopy and/or splenoportovenography and a high index of suspicion are required for the diagnosis of gastric varices. The incidence of gastric varices in patients with portal hypertension has been variably reported (2-70%), probably due to difficulties in diagnosis. In a small proportion of patients with gastric varices, chronic portal-systemic encephalopathy or significant variceal bleeding develops. Gastric varices can be classified, depending on their anatomical location, into gastroesophageal varices (a continuation of esophageal varices) or "isolated" gastric varices (fundal or ectopic varices). This distinction is necessary for management. Whereas surgery is recommended for bleeding fundal varices, in acute bleeding from gastroesophageal varices, sclerotherapy could be attempted successfully. In more than a quarter of patients, gastric varices disappear after obliteration of esophageal varices. Prophylactic sclerotherapy of gastric varices is not recommended.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Catheterization
  • Esophageal and Gastric Varices* / classification
  • Esophageal and Gastric Varices* / etiology
  • Esophageal and Gastric Varices* / therapy
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage / etiology
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Portal / complications*
  • Sclerotherapy
  • Splenectomy