Screening for esophageal varices
It is important to understand that if the varices start bleeding, it is already late enough and that many patients discover that they have varices before they experience their first attack of bloody vomiting. This is done through a screening test. Screening means that apparently healthy people at risk of a certain condition undergo testing to catch such condition early on. In the case of esophageal varices, it includes performing regular endoscopies for those with liver cirrhosis.
If esophageal varices are found, they are classified according to their possibility of bleeding. This depends on their endoscopic appearance and their size. High-risk esophageal varices can undergo treatment. The main line of treatment is endoscopic band ligation (EBL). Endoscopic band ligation involves the application of a rubber band at the base of a varix, then leave it there. When the varix is “strangulated”, it falls off without bleeding, leaving an ulcer in its place which then heals. Endoscopic band ligation can be done for a large number of varices on separate sessions.