Banding of Esophageal Varices

Varices are large, dilated veins that develop in the esophagus (swallowing tube) when there is elevated pressure in the portal vein, the large vein that enters the liver. This elevated pressure can occur under several circumstances including severe liver disease and thrombosis (clotting) of the portal vein. Sometimes these varices can bleed or be at high risk of bleeding. One way to control this is to put a “band” on the vein so that it clots and then will not bleed. The bands are placed using an endoscope. This is done while your child is asleep under anesthesia. A fiberoptic tube (endoscope) is passed through the mouth and into the esophagus. There is a light and video chip on the end of the endoscope that sends images to a screen. A special device, called a bander, is attached to the tip of the endoscope. Once a varix is identified, a band can be placed around the vein. Bands can be placed on several different varices at the same session. It often requires several sessions, each scheduled several weeks apart, to take care of all the varices.