Portal hypertension is increased pressure in the portal vein — the main vein that receives blood from the:
The increased pressure is most often a symptom of liver disease and is most commonly caused by scarring in the liver (cirrhosis).
It can occur when the veins leading in to or out of the liver are blocked, or as a result of chronic pancreatitis.
In newborns, portal hypertension can result from umbilical infection. In cases of chronic pancreatitis and umbilical infection, the liver is usually normal.
Pressure on the portal vein causes blood flow to be restricted or pushed backward.
This causes enlargement and lengthening of the veins in the stomach and esophagus. Enlarged veins are called varices.
Excessive bleeding (hemorrhage) from the varices is a potentially life-threatening condition that must be treated because hemorrhage often recurs and is associated with a high risk of death.
Portal hypertension may cause the spleen to become enlarged. This can cause abdominal discomfort and, because the enlarged spleen holds blood cells, reduce circulating platelets and white blood cells.
Other conditions that may develop as a result of portal hypertension include:
To schedule an appointment, or for more information, call the UPMC Liver Cancer Center, toll-free, at 1-855-74-LIVER or complete our contact form now.
Common symptoms may include:
In addition to a physical exam, your doctor may order several tests to help diagnose cirrhosis or portal hypertension:
The goals of cirrhosis treatment are to:
Treatment options may include:
Other things that may aid in treatment include:
Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Supplemental content provided by Healthwise, Incorporated. To learn more, visit Healthwise.org
For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.
UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.
Medical information made available on UPMC.com is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, UPMC.com is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.
For UPMC Mercy Patients: As a Catholic hospital, UPMC Mercy abides by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, as determined by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. As such, UPMC Mercy neither endorses nor provides medical practices and/or procedures that contradict the moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.
Pittsburgh, PA, USA UPMC.com