Portal Hypertension

Sometimes, there is increased blood pressure within the portal vein or the minor vessels that drain into it. This is known as portal hypertension. Usually, this condition arises as a consequence of liver disease such as liver cirrhosis.

CAUSES

  • Liver cirrhosis which often occurs as result of chronic alcoholism.
  • A tumor compressing the portal vein.
  • Arsenic poisoning.
  • Blood clots in the portal vein.
  • Blood clots in the hepatic veins.
  • Blood clots in the inferior vena cava.
  • Congenital absence of the portal vein.
  • Alpha1-antitrypsin deficiency.
  • Problems with the bile ducts.

SYMPTOMS
The patient may notice a few or more of the following indications:
*Swelling of the abdomen.

  • Abdominal pain.
  • Fever.
  • Weight gain.
  • Blood in the stools. Stools may be black or tarry in appearance.
  • Vomiting blood.
  • Mental confusion.
  • Lethargy.
  • Forgetfulness.
  • Swelling of the legs.

DIAGNOSIS
The process of diagnosis could involve the following steps:

  • Physical examination.
  • Medical history.
  • Blood tests.
  • Fecal occult blood tests.
  • Ultrasound imaging.
  • Computerised tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans.
  • Gastrointestinal endoscopy.
  • Hepatic venography.
  • Liver biopsy.

TREATMENT

  • Lifestyle Modifications
  • Sclerotherapy or variceal ligation
  • Nonsurgical Transjugular Intrahepatic Portal-Systemic Shunt (TIPSS)- This procedure is performed to control acute bleeding.