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. (Esophogeal 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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Born without a Portal Vein!
March 26, 2012 at 1:10 am

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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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