Portal Hypertension (cont.)
In this Article
What Are the Symptoms of Portal Hypertension?
The onset of portal hypertension may not always be associated with specific symptoms that identify what is happening in the liver. But if you have liver disease that leads to cirrhosis, the chance of developing portal hypertension is high.
The main symptoms and complications of portal hypertension include:
How Is Portal Hypertension Diagnosed?
Usually doctors make the diagnosis of portal hypertension based on the presence of ascites or of dilated veins or varices as seen on physical exam of the abdomen or the anus. Various lab tests, X-ray tests, and endoscopic examinations may also be used.
How Is Portal Hypertension Treated?
Unfortunately, most causes of portal hypertension cannot be treated. Instead, treatment focuses on preventing or managing the complications, especially the bleeding from the varices. Diet, medications, endoscopic therapy, surgery, and radiology procedures all have a role in treating or preventing the complications. Other treatment depends on the severity of the symptoms and on how well your liver is functioning.
Endoscopic therapy.This is usually the first line of treatment for variceal bleeding and consists of either banding or sclerotherapy. Banding is a procedure in which a gastroenterologist uses rubber bands to block off the blood vessel. Sclerotherapy is occasionally used when banding cannot be used and is a procedure in which a solution is injected into the bleeding varices to cause them to scar.
Medications. Nonselective beta blockers (nadolol or propranolol) may be prescribed alone or in combination with endoscopic therapy to reduce the pressure in varices and further reduce the risk of re-bleeding. Nonselective beta blockers are also prescribed to prevent a first variceal hemmorrhage in a patient with varices that are felt to be at risk for bleeding. Esophageal variceal banding has also been used for that purpose, especially in those patients who are intolerant to beta blockers. The drug lactulose can help treat confusion and other mental changes associated with encephalopathy.
What Lifestyle Changes Should Be Made for Portal Hypertension?
Maintaining good nutritional habits and keeping a healthy lifestyle will help you avoid portal hypertension. Some of the things you can do to improve the function of your liver include the following:
Other Treatment Options
For those with portal hypertension, if endoscopic therapy, drug therapy, and/or dietary changes do not successfully control your variceal bleeding, you may require one of the following procedures to reduce the pressure in these veins. Decompression procedures include:
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