What is esophageal banding?
Esophageal banding is a life-saving procedure to stop bleeding from varices. These are veins in the esophagus that have enlarged due to blockage of blood flow to the liver and or spleen. Esophageal varices are fairly common with over 200,000 cases in the U.S.
What causes them? These usually form because the liver is scarred, and it is allowing little blood to flow through it. As a result, there is increased pressure in the vessels that carry blood to the liver. This leads to eventual “backing-up” of blood flow. When the blood “backs up” to the veins of the lower esophagus, it often forms esophageal varices. Esophageal varices are more likely to occur in individuals with advanced liver disease. Symptoms include blood in vomit or in stools. However symptoms usually do not show until veins bleed.
How are varices treated?
Varices must be tied off in order to prevent further bleeding. This is achieved through esophageal banding. Little rubber bands are put on the varices using an upper endoscope in order to cut off blood flow.
Depending on your condition, additional sessions may be necessary to keep varices under control and prevent bleeding.