What Exactly is Portal Hypertension?

Portal hypertension is an increase in pressure within the portal vein.  The portal vein is the main vein that extends from the digestive organ to the liver.

The increased pressure is caused by a blockage (clot)  in the blood flow from the digestive organs to the liver.

The increased pressure in the portal vein causes large veins (varices) to develop across the esophagus and stomach to bypass the blockage. The varices become very fragile and can bleed easily.

If the varices are discovered through a gastroscopy they are usually graded on a scale of 1 to 3, with 3 being the most dangerous to bleed.

Portal HypertensionIn the US, they are graded on a scale of 1 to 4. (Esophageal varices will be discussed in greater detail on another article).

In my particular case,  portal hypertension was caused by thrombosis or clotting of the portal vein due to an apparently unknown genetic defect, which was thought to be some kind of protein deficiency.

This cause often termed non-cirrhotic is not the most common cause of this condition, as is cirrhosis of the liver.

Cirrhosis results from the healing of a liver injury caused by hepatitis, alcohol abuse, or other causes of liver damage.

In cirrhosis, the scar tissue blocks the flow of blood through the liver and will slow it’s processing function.

Read more about my own personal Portal Hypertension Journey.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Audra November 2, 2013 at 9:32 am

Hello again,
Thank you for the advise. I will ask to be referred to a gastroenterologist if nothing comes of the scopes and tests I am already scheduled to have.

The craving and chewing of ice comes under the umbrella of a condition called “PICA”. Pica is the craving and eating of non-nutritional substances such as paper, clay, dirt etc. Specifically, the chewing of ice is associated with iron deficiency anemia and is called pagophagia. I am continually amazed at what I have learned about the human body since my diagnosis 5 years ago.

Take Care and I will keep you posted on any new developments.


Baron May 26, 2014 at 4:06 am

Dear all,

i am glad that I am not alone and would like to hear more from others. After CT SCAN and MRI SCAN, the doctor concluded that I have portal hypertension. So now more blood test to be done for further investigating. The doctor also recommend liver biopsy and scope to find the road cause of PH. on the other hand another doctor which I consult for second opinion mention that liver biopsy can be dangerous as there already built up pressure in the splenic vein and PV, this biopsy can lead to more complication for the moment of test or later part. One more thing to share when doing the MRI scan there also an soft tissue surround my left and right hepatic and in unexplained which also I am concern about .

any one here have similar case like my, having a built up pressure in the PV and did a liver biopsy?

Thank you


Tina October 5, 2014 at 4:42 am

Hi I’ve just come across this web site, and well how does portal vein hypertension effect all your lives, the dangers and what to do and not to do,,,.. My 14 year old daughter was diagnoised in June through years of investigation of why her blood counts and immune system was very low,, than one day in June my daughter kept passing out every time she stood up we rushed her to the hospital where she needed to have 4 litres of blood transfusion,, they decided to scan my daughter the 1st time in 4 years of investigation and found out she had portal hypertension,,, so far she’s had 10 bands fitted, and last week she had a liver biopsy , and more tests to see if she will become compatible to have the shunt fitted… As a mum this is all scary to me and I don’t know how this will affect my daughters adult life, will she be fit to have a family of her own when she’s older, and will she always have to be careful, obviously with her spleen always being enlarged…. Just a confused mum…
Thank you.


Mira October 5, 2014 at 1:04 pm

Dear all,
I am a concerned parent of a 3 year old toddler who was born prematurely. She developed portal vein hypertension due to a thrombosis likely developed in the NICU from a failed IV catheter in her umbilical cord.
She was admitted to the hospital after vomiting blood. Given her dire situation, she had a spleno-renal shunt May 2014, then angioplasty 2 months later. The second ultra sound this week suggested narrowing. They are recommending a possible stent.
Did anyone have a similar situation with a shunt narrowing post surgery? Did anyone have a stent placed due to the narrowing? Were their side affects such as restenosis and blood clotting/thrombosis?


Clint October 9, 2014 at 8:11 am

Hello Mira, Thank you for visiting my site. I am very sorry to hear of your little one’s complications, and also feel bad I haven’t been able to respond sooner due to a very busy schedule this past month. Because of the urgency of your request, you need to connect with other parent’s dealing with the same situations for their children, so I am going to refer a Facebook page I subscribe to called Portal Vein Thrombosis and Portal Hypertension in Children and Adults. You will find on that page valuable information from parents themselves on issues pertaining to children. As adult living with Portal Hypertension for over 12 years, I have come to the conclusion that there does not seem to be any cure for the condition, however they can control it and in many cases improve the lives of people living with it, especially children.

My thoughts and prayers are with your little one and your family as you deal with this situation. Keep me informed, and I will watch for your name to come up on the site mentioned.

Best, Clint


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