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Bleeding in the digestive tract, specifically the esophagus and stomach, is a very serious complication associated with cirrhosis. This bleeding occurs in people with cirrhosis because of increased blood pressure in the veins that carry blood from the digestive tract to the liver. This bleeding, known as variceal bleeding, can be life-threatening and requires immediate treatment. Esophageal ligation, also known as variceal banding, is one of the most commonly used treatments for bleeding varices.
How does variceal banding (esophageal ligation) work?
An endoscope is used to put an elastic band around the dilated vein that is causing the problem. This serves to cut off the blood flow to the vein. This procedure often needs to be repeated several times over the course of a few weeks. once the bleeding has been controlled, the varices will need to be checked every 3 to 12 months indefinitely.
During variceal banding, a doctor uses an endoscope to place an elastic ring that looks like a rubber band around an enlarged vein. Banding the vein in this manner will cut off blood flow through the vein. It may be difficult to use this procedure while someone is actively bleeding because the device used to place the bands obscures the doctor’s vision.
Esophageal ligation has been shown to be as effective as other treatment options and usually results in fewer complications.