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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{ 53 comments… read them below or add one }

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


Christina Martin February 21, 2015 at 7:35 pm

By way of introduction my name is Christina Martin and I am the Race Director for the Stop the Clot Chicago 5K. The run is dedicated to my best friend Manu Williams who I love very much. Manu passed away on September 28, 2014 from a blood clot. This run/walk will be held in his honor.

The goal of the run is to bring awareness about blood clots. 274 people will die from blood clots every day. More so, blood clots can impact 600,000 people per year. The goal is to get the word out about the dangers. Manu was only 36 years young and it’s important for people to know blood clots do not discriminate on age, race, size or how healthy a person thinks they are.

Proceeds of the run will go to the National Blood Clot Alliance. I’m reaching out to Portal Hypertension just for some extra support on awareness of the campaign.

Run will be held May 10, 2015 at Montrose Beach in Chicago on Mother’s Day Sunday at 9AM

Cost $28 for adults and children over 13 & Cost for kids under 12 is $26 for timed racing and $19 for un-timed racing.

URL: http://www.stoptheclotchicago.com

Thank you so much,


Clint February 22, 2015 at 1:40 am

Hi Chris,

Thank you for visiting my site. Absolutely will support you for remembering Manu and raising awareness for cause. I have just approved your request for my blog and will re-post your site with a quick write up for the benefit of anyone interested in the Chicago area and beyond.

It would be great to have an update after the event takes place, to see how it all went.

Best regards, Clint


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